Exhibtion Index  Credits   Bryn Mawr College Library    

Chicago May SharpeMay Churchill Sharpe. Chicago May, Her Story. New York: Macaulay Company, c. 1928.
Download an excerpt from the book as a pdf


"Chicago May" (May Churchill Sharpe, 1877-1929) was a professional criminal - a prostitute, a thief, and a con woman.  She was a skilled practitioner of the "badger game," an extortion scheme in which a man is enticed into accompanying a woman to some private room where they are interrupted by an accomplice who claims to be the woman's husband, father, or brother and who extorts any cash the victim is carrying.  After three and a half decades of criminal activity with intermittent stays in prison, she claimed that she was "going straight" and began writing a series of magazine articles, and then this book, turning her life into a different sort of saleable product.  She died in a Philadelphia hospital shortly after the publication of her autobiography.  Although she claimed her story was written as a warning to others, she clearly had enjoyed her career and was proud of her expertise.

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