* Prices may differ from that shown
The life and times of the notorious Australian outlaw Ned Kelly are firmly rooted in the country's collective conscience, to many he was simply a violent bushranger who cold bloodedly murdered three policemen while to others he has become a folk hero, a noble outcast that fought on the side of the poor and oppressed against the might of the colonial British empire, Australia's very own Robin Hood. As with many historical figures that give rise to such opposite emotions it is as always difficult to get at the truth of the man.
Peter Carey is a Booker prizewinning author who has in the past taken on historical fiction with some panache. He has always included characters with various eccentricities in his stories from his early 'Oscar and Lucinda' to his later Dickensian parody 'Jack Maggs'. In the 'True History of the Kelly Gang' he has used a mixture of historical fact and literary fiction to show us one version of a potential truth surrounding the short, violent but fascinating life of Ned Kelly. In a similar way to the earlier 'Jack Maggs' Carey tries to uncover what lies behind the known story of a famous character, in the case of Maggs that was a fictional character Magwitch from Dickens' 'Great Expectations', in this book Ned Kelly is a real historical figure but details of his life is still a matter of much debate. However while in Jack Maggs the reader fails to relate or sympathise with the character in the case of Ned Kelly you can't help to be charmed by his honesty and courage and thus almost from the outset you are rooting for him.
Each chapter takes the form of a long letter written by Ned Kelly to his daughter and chronicles his life from a small 12 year old boy growing up on his parents poverty stricken tenant farm to his life as a bushranger and the most infamous outlaw of his time when he was still only in his mid twenties. Having done some research on Ned Kelly's life since reading the book I discovered to my surprise that Kelly did indeed write letters describing his life and justifying his life of crime as a consequence of the brutality and outrageous discrimination by the mainly English protestant authorities and police towards the poor mainly catholic Irish migrants like the Kelly's. One famous letter that Kelly sent to the local Member of Parliament to explain his actions and appeal for justice was initially suppressed and was only eventually published in a Melbourne newspaper in the 1930's over 70's years after it was written. Such was the fear that the authorities had of giving Kelly a voice and increasing even further his support amongst the ordinary people.
Carey has tried to tell Kelly's story in the outlaw's own voice. The letters are written with little or no punctuation and include slang and dialect of the period. This provide the narrative with an authentic voice but I must admit that initially I found the style, especially the lack of punctuation difficult to follow, often the meaning of a sentence wasn't at all clear and needed re-reading. Very quickly I found if I read the book in large chunks, the writing develops its own rhythm and despite the lack of grammar becomes eloquent in its own way. What comes across from the writing is rather unexpected, Ned Kelly is portrayed as a very sympathetic character, always trying to make the best of his life and trying to protect his family. He is at heart a noble soul with a strong moral compass and yet despite his best attempt he is inextricably pulled into a life or crime and murder. The events detailed in Kelly's letter are mostly factually accurate, although they have been portrayed from Kelly point of view and thus are not unbiased. Even so there is enough historical evidence to suggest that the life of the poor Irish underclass in Victorian Australia was not an easy one. They were treated with utter contempt by the police and had few if any rights. You could as Carey does make a very good case for Kelly not having any other choice but to become an outlaw.
There are some fascinating details in the story that really bring to life the hardship experienced by the poor migrants at the time. Kelly and his family never had any shoes to wear and often went without food. The ramshackle huts they lived in were open to the elements and often families of six or seven lived in a single living space partitioned were possible with old blankets or sheets hanging from the ceiling to make some private space. One of the strongest characters in the story is Ned's mother Ellen who starts of as strikingly beautiful woman in her early twenties but through a succession of tragedies and disastrous choices in men, as well as seeming to be in a almost constant state of pregnancy for most of her life, ends up being broken in spirit and an aged well before her time, at the end of the story she's still only in her forties. The strongest emotional bond between any characters in the book is that between Ned and Ellen. Despite all that happens and the appalling circumstances they face the one constant is their love for each other and ironically in the end it is that love and family loyalty that is the undoing of Ned Kelly.
The times and locations are vividly brought to life by Carey. The harsh desolate environment of the Australian colonies is almost impossible for the poor farmer to tame. They are beset by droughts and then followed by floods, the land and climate being their worst enemy. The desolation and vastness of the outback is only good to hide in if you're running from the law and very many are forced to do just that. The story very much reminded me of a Western and in many ways it is. It's set in a similar time with the same sensibilities; the frontier spirit, the lawlessness and harshness of such places. Even though the narrator's first person style is simple and grammatically naive it still manages to bring out the rugged beauty of the land and the doomed humanity of its people.
Of course a lot of the details that Carey includes in the story are fictional, often only the bare facts of the events being historically accurate and yet you do wonder if it wasn't very much like that in reality. One famous aspect of the Kelly gang is their use of armour when going against the armed police, this apparently came about by Ned reading an article about the use of ironclad steamers in the American civil war, not sure if this is true but it sounds plausible. Carey has weaved the truth and the fiction so expertly together using such a sympathetic and authentic sounding voice that you do feel you are actually reading an autobiography.
Overall the 'True History of the Kelly Gang' is a fascinating read which despite initial misgivings about its style was thoroughly entertaining and informative. I'm not sure if at the end we have come any closer to really understanding Ned Kelly but we certainly come to understand more of his world and through that we might have a better understanding of the type of man he might have been.
'True History of the Kelly Gang' is available in paperback (424pages) from Amazon UK for £5.03 with free delivery or the Kindle edition for £4.78 at the time this review was written.
True History of the Kelly Gang is a historical novel by Australian writer Peter Carey. Published in 2000, it was the 2001 winner of the Booker Prize. Despite claiming to be a true history, the book is fiction, but is based loosely on actual events in Kelly's life. The story is separated into thirteen sections allegedly fashioned from original manuscripts written by Ned Kelly himself. The novel is written in a distinguishing dialect, with a minimum of punctuation or grammar. The style is based upon Kelly's only surviving piece of writing.
Ned Kelly is an iconic Australian figure. This standing, despite the simplistic characterisation of Kelly as a 'bushranger' exemplifies a particular ingredient of the Australian psyche, a desire to support an apparent underdog. Kelly represents this through his stand against the establishment of the day. Having been represented in film by luminaries such as Mick Jagger and Heath Ledger, Carey's novel attempts to tell the story of Ned Kelly from the protagonists own point of view. This allows Carey to imagine the motivations and events that influenced Ned Kelly's life and the paths that would lead to his battle at Glenrowan.
Peter Carey is an Australian novelist. He is a two time winner of the Booker prize and has also won the Miles Franklin Award three times.
Peter Carey was born in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, in 1943. He originally worked in advertising until moving to New York in 1990. He has written and number of well regarded novels including Oscar and Lucinda and Jack Maggs.
The novel is written, for the most part in the words of notorious Australian bushranger Ned Kelly. The story traverses Kelly's life from childhood to death, with the events after Ned's capture and sentencing to death told by someone else, presumably a hostage from the siege at Glenrowan who escapes with the manuscripts that hold the Ned Kelly story. As the story is historical fiction, it uses real events interwoven with fictitious imaginings to piece together a likely representation of Ned Kelly, his family and friends and the authority figures who would be key in the life and, poignantly, death of Ned Kelly. Crucially Carey departs from what is known about Kelly's life and gives him a lover and a daughter. The manuscripts are actually almost like letters to his daughter, for whom he has been chronicling his memoirs.
The story begins with Ned Kelly's father, John "Red" Kelly, an Irishman transported to Van Diemen's Land, while it was still a penal colony. Upon release he settles in the colony of Victoria. He marries Ellen Quinn and they move to rural area northeast of Melbourne. Red Kelly is shown to have had frequent encounters with the colonial police forces, and he is imprisoned and dies when Ned is twelve years of age.
Under the Land Grant Act, Ned's mother moves the family to North Eastern Victoria and the family begin a new life. He takes a lover in bushranger Harry Power and he agrees to take on Ned as an apprentice. It is Power who trains Ned giving him an education of the land, hideouts, and strategies for bushranging. Kelly falls out with Power and returns to his family's settlement.
The story here begins to show Ned Kelly as making an earnest attempt at an honest living, working hard to make the settlement work. But when a friend sells him a stolen horse without his knowledge, Ned finds himself arrested and imprisoned for three years. After release he works as a sawmill hand, but when a rival squatter appropriates a herd of his horses he is drawn back into bushranging. This is helped when Ned shoots Alex Fitzpatrick, a policeman, in the hand after he pulls a revolver on the Kelly family. The policeman has been involved with Ned's sister, but Ned finds out that Fitzpatrick has not been faithful. Despite dressing the wound and Fitzpatrick's undertaking that no action will be taken, warrants are issued for the arrest of Ned and his younger brother Dan.
As Ned and Dan hide out in the hills of northeast Victoria they are joined by friends Steve Hart and Joe Byrne. When Ned's mother is arrested to entice Ned to give himself up, Ned's life has crossed a line from which you sense he will not return. Four policemen detached to kill the gang, after attempts to arrest them fail, are ambushed at Stringybark Creek. After this event, now wanted 'cop killers, with no turning back, the Kelly Gang begin to rob banks to get money to survive, and share their proceeds with the lower-class settlers who give them refuge while on the run from the law.
It is during this time that Ned Kelly meets a young Irish girl named Mary Hearn. He falls in love with Mary and they make plans to flee the colony after she becomes pregnant with his child. Mary is the one who encourages Ned to write story down for his future child, who she fears will never know its father. Mary eventually uses money from Ned to emigrate to San Francisco with Ned's unborn daughter, while Ned remains, unwilling to leave Australia while his mother is still imprisoned.
The final climatic scene takes place in the town of Glenrowan, where squads of police descend upon the site where the gang are staked out with hostages. It is here where the iconic Ned Kelly image of a man wearing a suit of plate steel armour has its genesis. The policemen lay siege to the town and engage in a furious shootout with the armour-clad gang, wounding Ned and killing the other three members of the gang. Kelly's account stops suddenly just before the shootout. The story of the battle and Ned's eventual death by hanging are related by a secondary narrator, identified only as 'S.C'.
Having studied Ned Kelly along with other bushrangers during my school years, I had a least a cursory knowledge of his life and key events that occurred and his final battle at Glenrowan is particularly infamous. I have also seen a particularly dreadful Hedge Ledger movie in which he played 'our hero', but this movie was so dull that I can barely remember what happened. This novel however relates a story where unfortunate states of affair and the frequent injustices act as a catalyst that pushes Ned Kelly into a life of crime.
Despite the title, this is not actually the true tale. Peter Carey has described it as being "98% made up but (that it) really respects the 2% that we know". Carey has used known facts and augmented the story with imagination to fill in the empty spaces. To be honest though, it isn't just the story that is intriguing; it is the way in which it is delivered.
As a 1st person narrative, Carey has done an outstanding job in portraying the unique voice of Kelly authentically. The text is simple but believable, written in language one would expect of an uneducated bushranger. Peter Carey has taken inspiration from a letter actually written by Kelly that was found in 2000. He captures the tone of the era and style of the narrator by utilising poor grammar and structure. Sentences often run together with little or no punctuation. The book contains no commas when written in Kelly's voice. Dialogue is not marked either, making it difficult to identify speech. The absence of conventional punctuation makes reading difficult at first, but as the rhythm and style of the prose becomes familiar the story begins to captivate. Within a few pages, the language goes unnoticed and the story comes to the fore as you get caught up in the rhythm of its prose.
On the whole, the style adds authenticity and makes the story seem plausible. Kelly begins his story with a line that says that his account "will contain no single lie may I burn in hell if I speak false." This takes the reader straight to the heart of Kelly. A connection made to the character of Ned Kelly. As the reader and leads you to believe that this is a voice dedicated to honesty. You get right into the mindset of Kelly, essential in explaining and accepting why he acted as he did. You can sense hopelessness on occasions but it's his strength, resilience and optimism create sympathy for his plight, despite his lawlessness.
It is the precise nature of Kelly's lawlessness that is central to Carey's book. Viewing his crimes as reactions against a cruel and unjust system, you are presented with the notion that Ned and his gang were driven to crime by a need to protect themselves and their families. It provides a fuller understanding of the gang and gives you a sense of motivations for actions. The novel reflects on the way in which criminal behaviour is often dehumanised by providing a notorious criminal with a voice that explains and puts into context actions and choices taken. Kelly decried the ill treatment of the poor would come to their defence. Because of this the establishment would see him as a scoundrel and a thug whilst the common folk considered him a hero.
Because of Kelly's portrayal in a compassionate and heroic light, the book created controversy when first released in Australia, where the historical figure is still reviled by many. But as Kelly remains and interesting an iconic figure in Australian history, Carey's attempts to provide an alternative viewpoint is worthwhile. Carey provides a sensitive account that reveals an unfortunate victim of circumstance whose deeds were motivated by desperation or courage of his convictions.
I lost my own father at 12yr of age and know what it is to be raised on lies and silences my dear daughter you are presently too young to understand a word I write but this history is for you and will contain no single lie may I burn in Hell if I speak false.
And so the story of Ned Kelly begins...
Born in 1855 in a remote section of the Australian colony of Victoria, Ned Kelly was raised in a life of hardship. As the son of an Irish convict, life was particularly harsh and never pleasant for young Ned and his family. At the time, the ruling class despised the Irish immigrants and both the police and the justice system were thoroughly corrupt.
Forced to live in hovels, the Irish struggled to put as little as bread on their plates, let alone make a decent living. Conspiracy and unfair persecution were rife and the Kelly family were harassed, cheated, slandered and lied to by the authorities at every available opportunity.
These unfortunate circumstances and the constant injustice acted as a catalyst in pushing Kelly into a life of crime and severe violence, subsequently creating the controversial and notorious Australian outlaw that almost everyone is familiar with.
The True History of the Kelly Gang takes Ned Kellys story and brings it to life although despite the title, it isnt actually the true tale. Peter Carey describes it as being 98% made up but really respects the 2% that we know. Carey has remained faithful to the few known facts and then used his imagination to fill in the empty spaces. To be honest though, it isnt the story itself that is so captivating...its the way in which it is delivered.
The book is constructed as a fictional series of personal accounts which have been found, each one handscrawled on assorted stained and tattered papers, including stolen bank stationery. These heartfelt pieces of writing are said to have been penned by the legend himself for the baby daughter that he will never see. A true confession to be read by his child as justification for all of his exploits and a detailed version of events, making sure that she always knows the truth about her father rather than having to rely on folk tales and rumours.
The contents and condition of each manuscript is provided as a preface to each chapter making the concept more believable. If you think about it long enough, the very idea of Kelly writing his memoirs seems pretty absurd but just dont think about it too much. Let yourself listen to the voice of Ned Kelly and enjoy it instead!
As the book is written as a 1st person narrative, you need to imagine that Kelly is actually narrating the tale. Carey has done remarkably well in capturing the unique voice of Kelly. Text is presented in a very simple manner but told in a language that you would expect of the uneducated bushranger and is inspired by a letter actually written by Kelly that was found in 2000. Regional dialect of the era is utilised along with poor grammar and structure. Sentences often run together with little or no punctuation. In fact the book contains no commas at all until the final concluding paragraphs!
Dialogue is not marked either making it a challenge to distinguish speech. The lack of conventional punctuation can prove to be a little difficult, but only initially. Within a few pages, the language goes unnoticed as you get caught up in the rhythm of its prose. The words flow with the immediacy of a speaking voice.
My only criticism of this approach is that it can lead to concentration of the words rather than their meaning. But on the other hand, momentary confusion causes you to slow down and take your time in an attempt to fully absorb what he is saying, sometimes even reading over sentences a second time to clarify the words.
I think the overall style adds authenticity and certainly gives the novel its originality. As does the censoring of swear words which makes perfect sense given the fact that Kelly was writing the narrative for his daughter. His consideration for his reader results in the expletive studded dialogue being cleaned up by replacing rough expressions with adjectival or mere dashes. Again, this causes the story to be moderately hard to read at first but you soon become accustomed to the quaint ommitance of strong language.
The opening paragraph of the book (which I have used at the start of my review) immediately creates a sense of trust and a feeling of realism is established.
...and will contain no single lie may I burn in hell if I speak false.
This openness takes the reader straight to the heart of Kelly. A crucial connection to the main character is made at this time - a connection that remains intact throughout the entire novel. As the reader, you constantly believe that this is a voice dedicated to honesty. To me, the story felt so real that I forgot it was fiction!
The story begins during Ned Kellys childhood which is very important as it is clear to see that his experiences shaped his life and developed his personality. The most significant event at this time is the jailing of his father, leaving young Ned shouldering responsibility for his family by the age of 12. From that moment on his main aim is to win his mothers love and approval but she doesnt return the affection and sends the reluctant Ned to work as an apprentice to the famous bushranger, Harry Power. The idea being to toughen him up and teach him the art and skills of outlawing.
On his return, Ned is increasingly ambitious, very protective of his family and has an incredible sense of loyalty towards them. It is this loyalty within his family that proves crucial and leads to his constant tangles with the law as he finds himself forced into making impossible decisions to save and protect his kin.
You get right into the state of mind of Kelly, essential in explaining and understanding why his actions occurred. You can feel his emotions and sense his hopelessness but its his strength, resilience and optimism that make his tones fascinating and even inspiring to an extent.
The story continues to trace his life, his attempts to stay on the right side of the law and eventually, the formation of the notorious Kelly Gang. Numerous hasty decisions have some horrible repercussions and minor crimes progress into large scale robbery and ultimately murder.
As the reader tracks Kellys inner feelings and motivation we are faced with a dilemma - should we sympathise with the outlaw or condemn him?
The precise nature of Kellys lawlessness is central to Careys book. Most of his crimes are seen as reactions against a cruel and unjust system being enacted against immigrants. The reader is given the strong impression that Ned and his gang were driven to their violence by a need to safeguard their own livelihoods and protect their families from the unfairness of their persecutors. It provides a better understanding of the gang, making it hard to believe that they were a group of no good hoodlums.
Kelly decried the ill treatment of the poor and bravely came to their defence. It is these actions that caused the wealthy to see him as a rogue and a brute whilst the common folk appreciated his efforts and thought of him as a hero.
In the True History of the Kelly Gang, he may not always be a likeable person but he is most certainly portrayed as a sympathetic character who always had the best intentions, even though he became embroiled in an existence of crime and violence. Kelly undoubtedly considered his reckless behaviour as wholly justified. He prided himself on taking back what he felt he deserved and getting revenge on those who used him and abused the poor....but only resorting to extreme actions when completely necessary.
Circumstances in the book succeed in arousing the readers empathy and outrage but its not all doom and gloom. The novel merely uses the intriguing tale of Ned Kelly as a basis and then delves into the many other aspects of his life, creating a huge contrast as details of fighting and murder weave into his personal life and the development of a tender love story, which provides relief from the occasional heaviness.
These parts in particular are written with a certain amount of grace and sincerity. Immaculately observed description of the Australian outback is vivid and textured providing captivating imagery. His dominant language contains both charm and wit and is almost poetic at times. Carey has adopted quite a lyrical descriptive style which really helps to make Kelly emerge as a man of much depth, compassion and intelligence - a completely different dimension to the folk hero.
Because of Kellys portrayal in a caring and heroic light, this book (which went on to become the 2001 Booker prize winner) caused controversy in Australia where the historical figure is still hated by many but remains an intrinsic part of their culture.
Carey has taken the simple story of the Kelly Gang and given it a creative twist by telling it from the perspective of Ned himself, making it both effective and enjoyable. His representation has created a book that contains all the elements and excitement of a great action adventure novel; marvellous characterisation, tragedy, comedy, beautifully descriptive prose, a touch of romance and the ability to transport the reader to another era. The result is an exhilarating and engrossing read.
Before reading this book, I confess that I didnt really know anything about the man or his reputation, apart from having a vision of him in his easily recognisabe and now iconic suit of armour, which incidentally doesnt play a part in the story until the very end! This proves that anyone can read the book - it is not necessary for you to know any details of his life before hand but it may mean that your opinion of him (like mine) is painted purely by the insight that is offered within its pages. It shows that the story of Ned Kelly may be a lot more complex than originally thought. Carey sensitively reveals him to be an unfortunate victim of circumstance whose criminal deeds were motivated by desperation.
Is this the truth? I suppose well never know.
Published by Faber and Faber
ISBN: 0-571-19216-5 (hardback), 0-571-20408-2 (paperback)
Hardback cover price: £16.99 (but I bought my copy for £4 from a music store)
The Booker Prize 2001 was a proverbial two-horse race between 'The True History of the Kelly Gang' and Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' and in all honesty any sense of justice would have seen a stewards enquiry after Peter Carey's novel was victorious. Compared to the elegant realism of the runner-up, Carey has both the subtlety and finesse of a policeman's clumsy boot into the much deserving Ned Kelly's posterior. Since this is from someone who has been a long-serving Carey and McEwan fan so there can be no accusation of bias but it has to be said that 'The Kelly Gang' is neither compelling, compulsive or particularly interesting. A previous reviewer suggested that the audience would find a single voice somewhat monotonous but this is, in all honesty, something of an understatement when you contemplate the 346 pages that lie ahead. In all honesty this is the first book for a number of years that I have been unable to finish and as a particularly tenacious reader it?s something I hate having to admit to. Admittedly the previous 'writer' (perhaps parasite would be more appropriate) to receive this polemic, vitriol and disparagement was Martin Amis and the day he produces a worthwhile novel is the time I stop reviewing lest I should have to award praise. Anyway, in the midst of such slander I digress. After discovering the joys of 'Bliss' and 'Jack Maggs' it was with great anticipation that I began trying to devour his latest offering but found a somewhat undercooked, indigestible meal in place of the gourmet cuisine the Booker Prize winners would have us believe. Far from being effective, his use of the single voice is intriguing for a few pages and the eloquent metaphors maintain a sense of the pure Irish lexicon that Joyce, Synge and Banville will wax lyrical with later but after that his repetitive introspection and absence of any truly redeeming features become simply irritating, if not bordering on
those of a somewhat Oedipal teenager (and this is just after midway). One of the nagging feelings I had throughout my odyssey into the final hundred pages was that far from being able to identify or empathise with the errant Ned, he became simply another character who was oppressed during this time but compounded his misery by repeatedly violating the law. The development of a character through monologue will often work to stunning effect but in this case what began as a reasonably daring experiment descended into tedium and disappointment. Probably the most convincing aspect of 'The Kelly Gang' rests in the omnipresent figure of Harry Power who, despite his early departure, continues to haunt Ned's tortured soul. Carey's depiction of such a vicious, exploitative character who is still able to fulfil his role as the paterfamilias does go some way to compensating for the weakness of his main characters and this absence of character depth is probably the main criticism I can lodge. However, 'Jack Maggs' and 'Bliss' are indebted to him for the surreal qualities of the latter and sheer brilliance of perspective for such a marvellously Dickensian adaptation which is why I am beginning to think that The Kelly Gang had loftier ambitions but whilst the intent was there, the execution remained firmly on a level of mediocrity I've not encountered in a novel for some time ... apart from Martin Amis that is !!
As an Australian, I would just like to point out that the Ned Kelly episode had very little to do with the British or indeed Australia, and that all the players in the drama were Irish. The gang's members -- including Kelly, Byrne and Hart -- were all Irish; the policemen Kelly murdered -- Lonigan, Scanlon and Kennedy -- were all born in Ireland. The judge who sentenced Kelly, Barry, was also Irish. For those unfamiliar with the story, Kelly came from a criminal family. His grandfather, father and himself were thieves and thugs preying on the Irish community, which made up the population of the area. His sister was a prostitute and his mother her pimp, as well as a seller of illegal alcohol. Let's not also forget in the attempt at historical whitewash that the Kellys were ardent racists, and that the first time Kelly was imprisoned it was for an unprovoked attack on a Chinese man. To claim that he suffered unjustly and really only wanted to help his poor old mother and farm the land (as is claimed in the review) is ridiculous and facile. I must myself write a book on Ted Bundy and say how the poor man was driven to kill by the hardships imposed on him by the Americans. Though of course not all Americans fall for such nonsense. In Bill Bryson's latest travelogue on Australia, he recognized Kelly as he really was -- calling him "a murderous thug with not a shred of nobility."
I was twenty-five when the b----rs hanged me for murder in 1880. My gang had tried to derail a train full of police reinforcements sent to capture us. I'd survived the gun battle thanks to the iron helmet and body armour I wore but one of the b------s shot me in the leg. Such is life. G'day readers I am the ghost of Ned Kelly. I heard Mr. Peter Carey had written my life story so I've come back to read it. He calls it the "True History…" and pretends they are my own words the cheeky b----r. Knowing me to be uneducated in the ways of parsing and suchlike he has made his grammar poorer so it may sound more True. He hasnt used much punctuation neither. He aint used one single comma in this whole book. I never had no time for commas anyway so fair enough say I. Mr. Carey tells how my father John was transported from Tipperary to Van Dieman's Land for conspiring to kill a farmer and how I killed a neighbour's heifer when I was a boy and how pa took the blame and was locked up again. We was too poor to afford meat you see and ma was with child. The law treated our kind worse than dogs. It's the age old tale of poverty and prejudice breeding resentment and rebellion… I became a reluctant apprentice to an infamous bushranger called Harry Power and what he taught me helped me to keep one step ahead of the police. Peter Carey makes us sound like adjectival Dick Turpin and Robin Hood! Who could of thought it possible that a boy from a poor Irish family would become a folk hero? You dont call people outlaws nowadays dooyoo? Would I be a terrorist or a freedom fighter do you reckon? I was "the best bloody man there has ever been" according to one poor farmer as knew me. Others said I was a thief and a murderer. This Peter Carey's told my story uncommon well so fair play to him. I hear that it has won him the Booker Prize for the second time. You adjectival beauty! The
only prize I ever had from a judge before was a cell or a rope. Now then ladies and gentlemen bail up! Put your money and jewellery in the bag cobbers this is a stick up! _____________________________________________________ http://www.ironoutlaw.com/ _____________________________________________________
In this fictional autobiography, we learn the story of Ned Kelly the famous Australian outlaw.