Tilly Devine, prostitute

Tilly Devine, a prostitute born in poverty in South London, married her Australian serviceman husband, Sapper Jim Devine, in Camberwell in August 1917. After the Armistice, Jim returned to Australia in October 1919. Tilly's ambition and determination led her to follow him to start a new life. She left her child and travelled alone on the ship Waimana to Sydney, passing beneath the notice of Customs officials on arrival in January 1920. Together, the couple made a substantial living from the sex trade. Tilly proved an insightful investor and established a profitable network of brothels across the city. She divorced her brutal husband Jim in 1943.

Covert photograph of Tilly Devine meeting Jim Devine

Tilly (1900–1970) and Jim Devine, Sydney,
c. 1930.
PIC/15611/3108, Fairfax Syndication

paper document

Tilly appears third on this Waimana passenger report prepared by the Australian Customs Service. This document identified diseased or ailing passengers likely to become 'a charge upon any public or charitable institution'.
NAA: SP83/11,WAIMANA, p. 2