The Story of Chicago May

Legend says that May was tall with red-gold hair and big blue eyes, compellingly attractive to men. At nineteen, she stole her family’s savings and ran away from home in rural Ireland to America where she worked as a confidence trickster, a thief, a showgirl, and a prostitute, notorious as much for her violence as for her diamond rings. The tabloids would dub her the “Queen of the Underworld.”

Reaching across the decades for points of connection, Nuala O'Faolain brings sympathetic scrutiny to the understanding of an outlaw experience like no other.

Editorial Reviews

“An absorbing look at an old-time, independent free-spirited crook.”

Chicago Tribune

“Resurrects this remarkable woman and the world she knew with breathtaking prose.”

Philadelphia Inquirer

“The biographer makes herself a complement rather than an intrusion, and May emerges lively, unique and cut from the cloth of Irish and American reinvention.”

Publishers Weekly

“Acclaimed memoirist Nuala O’Faolain recovers this colorful maverick of the Old Sod as only she could.”

Barnes & Noble, editorial review

“This is not only a thorough portrait of a woman on the wrong path; it is also a fresh and informative view of turn-of-the-twentieth-century America, and fascinating testimony to the need to tell and preserve true stories from all walks of life.”


Author Biography

Nuala O’Faolain (1940–2008) worked as a columnist for the Irish Times and producer for the BBC. She became a feminist early in her youth, motivated by a belief in social justice.

Reader Biography

Terry Donnelly is a narrator and an actress who has appeared on television in Law & Order. She is the narrator of more than a dozen audiobooks, and her reading of Quentins by Maeve Binchy was a finalist in 2003 for the prestigious Audie Award in the category of Solo Narration – Female. She earned an AudioFile Earphones Award for her reading of The Gathering by Anne Enright in which she was praised for “capturing [the author’s] every subtlety.”

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