'the love of my life'...
John Ward, writing whilst incarcerated on Norfolk Island, tells a story of thwarted love that–he claims–led him to a life of crime: including theft, sexual assault and more. In telling the candid story of his downfall he exposes his own ruthlessness and lack of empathy.
This book, using the diary as its base, is fascinating on so many levels. It is an insight into the criminal mind, ably examined by author June Slee. It is a glimpse into 19th–century aristocratic life–dress, food, pastimes and prejudices–from a servant's perspective (Ward was a groom to an officer gentleman). And it is a unique record, perhaps the only extant diary ever written during the Australian penal era whilst its convict writer was imprisoned. Plus, Ward records a particular moment in our history: not only life aboard prison hulks which he describes in detail but also the timing of his arrival in Sydney when convicts were no longer being accepted; he was sent straight to Norfolk Island where we get a fascinating insight into the rule of Captain Alexander Maconochie. Moconochie believed in a system of improvement for convicts based on a marks system for good behaviour rather than humiliating punishment. In this way, Ward gained access to writing materials for his diary.
It's all in this book: love, history, convicts, crime and criminology, Norfolk Island ...
The author weaves the diary – Ward’s own words – into her text seamlessly to tell a gripping story.
Illustrated with over 150 images including paintings, photographs, documents, newspapers and drawings, the book includes text box features that elucidate aspects of life at the time: oyster bars and eating out, disease, smuggling, county justice, convict marriage, convict class and society, the end of transportation, and more.
June Slee is an experienced writer and researcher, lecturer and practitioner in the field of criminology, particularly relating to the Australian convict era. Slee was immediately drawn to Ward’s story, not just for its insight into 19th-century crime and punishment, but also for its outstanding literary style and rarity as a diary that was written while its author was still incarcerated. Currently she is completing another book on convictism and has plans for two further books. June currently lives in New Zealand
National Library of Australia
01 October 2014
This item is in stock and will be dispatched immediately.