Madame Brussels

A must-read biography of an enigmatic personality who helped shape early Melbourne

Madame Brussels, the most legendary brothel keeper in nineteenth-century Melbourne, is still remembered and celebrated today. But until now, little has been known about Caroline Hodgson, the woman behind the alter ego.

Born in Prussia to a working-class family, Caroline arrived in Melbourne in 1871. Left alone when her police-officer husband was sent to work in remote Victoria, she turned her hand to running brothels. Before long, she had proved herself brilliantly entrepreneurial: her principal establishment was a stone's throw from Parliament House, lavishly furnished and catered to Melbourne's ruling classes.

Caroline rode Melbourne's boom in the 1880s, weathered the storm of the depression years in the 1890s and suffered in the moral panic of the 1900s. Her death in 1908 signified the end of one kind of Melbourne and the beginning of another: in terms of prostitution, the city went from tolerance to complete prohibition in her lifetime.

Drawing on extensive research, author and historian Barbara Minchinton deftly pieces together Madame Brussels' story and guides readers on a journey through a fascinating, colourful period in Melbourne's history. This is a major biography of an Australian icon.


July 17, 2024


6:45 pm


9:00 pm


The Eminence Restuarant

139 Nelson Place

Williamstown 3016

The Eminence Restaurant

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