Sophie Lyons Biography

I’m pleased to announce that my book, Queen of the Burglars: The Scandalous Life of Sophie Lyons will be published later this year. The book has been several years in the making and involved some of the most in-depth genealogical research I have ever undertaken. Tracing someone who was amazingly adept at lying, as Sophie certainly was, would have been impossible was it not for the resources available now on the Internet.


Sophie Lyons was arguably the most prolific female criminal of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While most of her male criminal colleagues ended up penniless, Sophie amassed a fortune by the time she died in 1924.

Her life, beginning with her upbringing in New York City by parents who were criminals, was full of struggles and marked by traumatic events. She suffered from untreated mental illness and was in and out of jail and prison during her much of her life. Sophie was married four times and gave birth to seven children.

The book includes a number of rare photographs and illustrations from my collection. Thomas Byrnes wrote about Sophie in his 1886 book, Professional Criminals of America. I own a copy of the book that belonged to Sophie’s daughter Florence, and she likely inherited it from Sophie herself. That book was the inspiration for me to undertake the task of writing of Sophie’s biography.

I hope you find the story of Sophie’s life as fascinating to read about as it was for me to research and write about.