Thursday, 2 March 2017

BOOK REVIEW: “Mrs Kelly” by Grantlee Kieza :




Ellen Kellys life was different from the thousands of other Irish immigrant women who settled in Victoria in the 19th century because of one thing : she gave birth to Ned Kelly, an Australian with a combination of social and character traits that resulted in him becoming a notorious outlaw. If it hadn’t been for Ned she would probably just have been another forgotten woman who like many others of her time, was poor, married young, never learned to read or write properly, had many babies and lost several of them, was widowed and married again, raised grandchildren, worked extremely hard all her life just to survive, and rode horses.  In those difficult days, it wasn't unusual for a mother to lose an infant or two, but it was still tragic, but Ellen also lost  a daughter in childbirth and another by drowning,  she lost a son in a police siege and another by hanging, and endured the lifelong shame of being the mother of a notorious police killler, who's life and death is the only reason we know about Ellens.   The exploits of her son Ned greatly added to the hardships and the sorrow she was forced to endure to the very end of her long life. 

Grantlee Kiezas biography of Ellen is therefore necessarily largely about Ned, the  forty three years of her life after Ned was hanged occupying just the last two of this big books twenty six chapters, and most of ten chapters in the middle are about the 'Outbreak', events which Ellen had no part in because she was in Gaol for all of it. 

In reality therefore this biography is a new telling of the entire Kelly story, and its clear Kieza hasn’t simply relied on the hand-me-down Kelly story told by the usual suspects starting with Kenneally and ending at Fitzsimons. Instead he has done his own original research, a great and reassuring strength of this book– and created a work that is very heavily referenced from start to finish - chapter three has 124 references !

Kieza has pieced the story together convincingly and without sentimentality about either the Kellys or the Police. There were many interesting details that others may have known but which I hadn’t come across before, or else were things only mentioned in passing but here exposed in sometimes hideous detail – like Jack Lloyds brutal slaying with an axe of a neighbours horse. Who knew one of Harry Powers victims was called Charles Dickens?  Who knew that Mrs Catherine McCormick, the infertile woman that Ned insulted so disgracefully, was only 4foot 10 inches tall? Who’s ever read about the young worker at Kilfera Station who refused an offer of  £50 from the Police to tell them where the Kelly gang was because “I have a mother and father keeping a a little farm not far off and if I told anything they would be murdered and burnt” Keiza then wrote “There are  many more people who either sympathise with the Kelly’s or are afraid of them” These statements are referenced to the Age, Novmber 13th 1878, p3, a reference that I regretfully could not  find in Kelvyn Gills “Definitive Record”.

This book differs from other books on the Kelly story because the focus is taken off Ned to enable a much wider field of view. What is revealed more clearly than anything Ive ever read before is how the Quinns, the Lloyds and the Kellys created such a chaotic maelstrom of criminality around Ellen and her family. There was an almost constant parade of drunken violence, of theft, of petty lawlessness and squabbling that Red and Ellen Kelly  struggled to separate themselves from, but inevitably got drawn into.  By 1857 “the Kellys now have about 50 Irish relatives living nearby and eventually the Kellys Quinns and Lloyds will be the most prolific family in NE Victoria”

The image created of Ned Kelly in this book will not please the modern Kelly Gang descendants and the sympathisers, because wisely Kieza has avoided the trap of most other biographers, of accepting Ned Kellys words as Gospel. The wise thing to do once you realize how unreliable Ned Kellys word is – in other words that he was a notorious and seemingly congenital liar – is to largely ignore Kellys version of events,  ignore the modern Kelly mythology and look at the record instead. Thus, in relation to Ned Kellys arrest for drunkenness he writes “Ned wakes up with a mighty hangover  the next morning complaining that he feels dazed and that he must have been drugged. He has an excuse for everything”. And later, after describing the fight when Ned refused to be handcuffed, and suffered the indignity of Lonigans ‘squirrel grip’ he writes “By his actions, though, Ned has turned the paltry drunk-and–disorderly offence into a major incident” 

He then goes on to describe how nine days later Dan Kelly and his cousins assaulted and robbed a storekeeper.

The Kelly descendants and sympathisers also wont be happy with Kiezas description of the three big moments in Kelly history : the ‘Fitzpatrick’ incident, Stringybark Creek and Glenrowan, because once again Neds lies and the modern myths are not the starting point of his narrative. Instead he largely lets the facts speak for themselves:

The Fitzpatrick incident : “Fitzpatrick is on a special mission that will lead him into the pages of infamy. Ned Kelly will say that the two years of murders and robberies that followed this day were the fault of Fitzpatrick. He will warn the Victorian Government during his reign of terror that the young policeman will be the cause of greater slaughter to the union Jack than St Patrick was to the snakes and toads in Ireland. Still, Ned will not be the first criminal to look for a scapegoat”

Stringybark Creek : “ All this time, Ned and Dan hiding in the undergrowth watch the four policemen. …….Ned and Dan retreat for a council of war with Joe and Steve at the Bullock creek hut. They could high-tail it out of there, but Neds predilection for violence imperils everyone yet again”

“Ned will say later that he thought he was watching Flood and Strahan – as though that will somehow justify his activities on that day – but there is nothing wrong with his eyesight, as subsequent events demonstrate. He cradles theold sawn off .577 carbine”

“As Sergeant Kennedy worries how his family will get on without him, Ned blows a huge hole in his chest.
Then he takes his watch”


Glenrowan : “Decades later one of his relatives will claim that Ned had plans to mount a revolution but his supporters would need brains of iron to follow this bleeding wreck carrying a metal mask” This is the only reference in this book to the modern myth promoted by Ian Jones in the 1960’s about a Republic of North East Victoria. There is no actual historical evidence for it, so Kieza rightly ignores the myth.

Chapter 11, which is where Ellens part in the outbreak starts and ends, is about the so called 'Fitzpatrick incident' and should be studied by every Kelly fancier. Kieza brilliantly exposes the messy web of lies, fabrications, changes of story, inconsistencies and absurdities in the accounts given by the Kellys and their friends in attempting to deny what they were accused of doing to Fitzpatrick, who by contrast maintained a  consistent, unwavering and coherent account of that night for the rest of his days. But Kieza hasn't been taken in by Neds lies and  is having none of the Kelly mythology and ends the Chapter with this:

"Now, having plunged Ellen into the worst crisis of her life Ned Dan and Joe gallop away from Greta into the blackness of the night.

In the early hours of 16th April 1878 they leave Ellen to face the full force of the law, with only her small children and poverty as company. The attempted murder of a police officer is a capital crime that carries the penalty of death by hanging.

Once again Ned Kellys propensity for violence has caused his family immeasurable grief.

Little Alice is now just three days old and Ellen is left holding the baby"


But what of the Police? Well personally I didn’t want to read about Police blunders, mistakes, brutality and misdemeanours, not because I want to pretend they didn’t happen but because every other Kelly narrative has exaggerated these Police failings into a massive anti-Kelly conspiracy theory, in conformity with what the paranoid Ned Kelly claimed. I wouldn’t want to give that delusional myth the least chance of  surviving a new look at the Kelly outbreak but in a properly even-handed way Keiza doesn’t hesitate to point out the police faults in the conduct of the hunt for the Kelly Gang. He says Brooke-Smith was “a blundering ditherer and bully hopelessly out of his depth as the Officer in charge of the Kelly district” and he discusses the depraved actions of Police and soldiers at Eureka and at the killing of bushranger ‘Mad dog’ Morgan. 

So, while the Police are not let off the hook by any means and Kieza accurately reports Ned Kelly's frequent claim that he is a victim of police persecution,  he is also careful to point out that the Royal Commission found no evidence that such persecution actually took place: "No evidence has been adduced to support the allegation that either the Outlaws or their friends were subjected to  persecution or unnecessary annoyance at the hands of the police"

It is indeed a warts and all account of the Kelly story, the life of Ellen being a loose thread that runs through the middle of it, from well before to well after Ned Kelly lived. She was a spirited and tough woman who was a largely a victim of the behavior of the men in her life, from Red to Bill Frost and George King, but mostly of her son Ned. He was not a hero or an admirable revolutionary but  'a very dangerous criminal', as Grantlee Kieza declared in an ABC TV interview, and as he makes clear in the book, not so much by asserting it but by telling the story and letting the facts speak for themselves. This book is a terrific read and makes a major contribution to the gathering body of work that at last is correcting the Ian Jones inspired mythology of Ned Kelly, and replacing it with historical truth. It wont change the minds of any of the Kelly gang descendants or of the dwindling ranks of modern Kelly sympathisers because theyre only interested in the Kelly fairy tales. Nothing will ever change a closed mind, but, as I keep saying about this Blog, those people are not my target audience and they are not the target audience of this great new book. The target audience is everyone genuinely interested in properly researched Australian history, and I believe that  if the only book they ever read about the Kelly story is this one, they will learn from it just about all they need to know.

Grantlee Kieza : you’ve written a terrific Kelly book. Well done Sir!

31 comments:

  1. Great book. I really enjoyed it, more than I thought I would. It's straight down the line and doesn't make judgement but lets' fact speak. I felt so bloody sorry for Ned and his siblings. They never had a bloody chance in hell from the moment they first drew breath. How could they have? Ellen and her temper and mouth, the stories that would've been told and soaked up, Jimmy Bloody Nutbag Quinn, arsonist and potential rapist James Kelly, Power, slygrogging, possible prostitution..(Jane Graham) .What a bloody sour environment for children to exist in.. But it wasn't police persecution. Nicolson, Babbington, Sadleir, Nicolas, Arthur, Gascoigne, Bracken, all outweighed the rotten eggs like Steele, Brooke-Smith, Flood. .. It was the clan they were surrounded with in their formative years. In fact, it appears the judiciary were absolutely sick to death of the Lloyds, Kellys and Quinns. This book will be a stayer. The detail is excellent, research well done. And good footnotes. Nice one Grantlee. I really enjoyed. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The book is well researched (though a bit more diversification of sources for the SBC episode would have been better) and is very well written. I have not been able to procure copies of any of the previous Ellen Kelly books, so I am not able to weigh in on the differences between those and this one, but I did enjoy reading Mr. Kieza's version of her life story. I agree with Mark's assessment above, the Kelly kids didn't stand a chance in the environment they were raised in (and I will add, that I would not have wanted to live next door to them or certain others in the area, either!) One thing for me as a woman that really stands out is how she (and actually most of the women of the era, including her daughter Maggie) seemed to constantly stay pregnant all through the prime years of their lives. Wouldn't having fewer mouths to feed have made things so much easier all around? (probably best not to kick this can of worms over too far, though)

    It is very good when it is focused on her and her early life and marriage but once she goes to gaol and is effectively benched on the sidelines, so to speak, the book focuses on the gang and their exploits, which made for quick reading as I could skip over the quotes from Ned's letters and other well known documents, as I know the Kelly story all too well...been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Still, the story was made much more interesting when it was reflected through the prism of Mrs Kelly's life.

    Everyone who knows me knows I am always on the lookout for errors, but I found very few. Mr Kieza says that Joe Byrne was shot in the foot, not true, he was shot through the calf of his leg. He also had that Edwin Living gave the original of the Jerilderie Letter to the Bank of NSW, again, not true. He kept it. Also he has that Mrs Ann Jones was a widow, but in the notes at the back, he states that her husband, Owen Jones, died in 1890 (which is a fact that Dave White first brought to light back on his glenrowan1880 website many years ago).

    All in all, I enjoyed the book and I am grateful that there was an affordable e-version for me to get over here in the US, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sharon. Its so good to have you back in the conversation. Do you hibernate in Winter?

      Ellens life, as I said at the beginning of my review, was in many ways not so different from that of many many others of that class and time in pioneering Victoria. Pregnancy, infant death and maternal death was a constant of life in those times, as was capital punishment. People who harbour romantic notions of those times forget about the harshness of it all.

      But thats an interesting debating topic you and Mark Perry have raised - the environment the Kelly children were raised in and how influential, or indeed how much that could be accepted as an explanation for what Ned became. Its always a mix of nature and nurture in the end...

      Delete
    2. I don't think Joe Byrne's body was subjected to autopsy. Witnesses in the hotel said he was wounded in the groin and saw blood pulsing out before he fell to the floor. The photos of him strung up on the jail door do not, I think, confirm any of these suppositions.

      Delete
    3. The bit I was referring to about him not being shot in the foot was not about the fatal wound that Joe died from but was from earlier in the fight. In the RC, Constable Phillips says that he heard Joe Byrne say to Ned that he thought his (Joe's) leg was broke, also this same constable testified that he examined Joe's leg at Benalla and there was bullet damage to the sinews of the calf. Right offhand I don't have the question number this is all from memory. Jones also has the info in his book.

      Dee, I have been a bit under the weather for a while, but have been regularly looking in. There was a great deal of running to and fro over previously well-trod ground and only now has there been something of more interest to comment on. Let's hope many others who have laid low will pop their heads up again, too. :)

      Delete
  3. I just saw a google alert from the Riverine Herald for an article entitled "Kelly Site to Get Upgrade." It said they were going to "enhance infrastructure and signage at the historic Stringy Bark Creek reserve" and there would be a new walking trail near where Mac escaped and Kennedy was killed, etc. Of course, it would only begin after the proper consultations and approval.

    http://www.riverineherald.com.au/rural/2017/03/09/77968/kelly-site-to-get-upgrade

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for that Sharon it does look interesting. However, I wasn't aware that the site of where Kennedy was finally killed by Ned had been determined. I think from Bill's SBC site there were 2 options as to the likely location. So does this article suggest that it has now been discovered? Bill might like to comment.

      Delete
    2. Kelvyn Gill the compiler of the Historical Record is also one of the co-authors of the CSI Report about SBC. He told me earlier this year that an investigation was underway to evaluate the various sites and would be publishing their findings later this year. I wrote to Bill to find out what he knew and he said he was completely in the dark. I think this is a disgraceful attempt by the CSI mob along with Ian Jones to try to push Bill aside, to refuse to acknowledge the brilliance of his work and to trick the authorities into believing they know what they're talking about. As I showed in my Blog post last year about the CSI Report, its a document more akin to pseudoscience than academic research. Their argument rests on absurd non scientific contrivances such as a claim that a tree in one photo is the same tree seen in the background of another fuzzy photo taken years later. Its incredibly poor science, but the authorities are once again being hypnotised by Ian Jones and the pseudo-scientists of the CSI team.

      read my posts from last year here: http://kellylegend.blogspot.co.nz/2016/09/the-csi-sbc-report-is-pseudo-science.html

      What can we do to support Bill and stop this classic example of 'might' being right, the little guy being pushed aside by the lobby group who got in the ear of the Government? We really have to oppose this - thats why Ive submitted a Comment not the end of that article discovered by Sharon, and I suggest other who feel the same way should do the same, and someone needs to consider writing to this Mr Russell and seeing if he understands how he has had the wool pooled over his eyes bye the CSI team who are desperate to slap Bill down because he's shown them up big time.

      Delete
  4. Who is Mr Russell?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My apologies. Lucas Russell, quoted in the article about SBC mentioned by Sharon is "DELWP Goulburn District manager‘‘ The quote is "This is an extremely important site from both a historical perspective and for the families of the policemen who were killed,’’

      Delete
  5. Be prepared to be blasted by a SBC revelation....you may not be so impressed Dee by Bill's so called 'scientific' SBC location findings in a couple of months from now.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I wonder who is the Police rep on the mostly anonymous group seeking to upgrade the SBC site (which in my opinion is an utter shambles with paths leading nowhere). To hear Bill is excluded is an absolute scandal. It would be an additional scandal if Leo Kennedy was excluded also... Is there a trained, experienced, open-minded field archaeologist available?

    I will, among other things be contacting DELWP Goulburn District manager, pollies and other people who would, I think, explode with rage if there is any more tampering and misleading at SBC.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe getting Adam Ford involved again would be beneficial?

      Delete
  7. The bland leading the blind again.

    I don't want any more taxpayers' money being squandered on discredited SBC sites. DELWP should dump their dud committee, and call in Bill Denheld as its Leading Consultant.

    He can lead DELWP to the exact spot of the SBC police camp.

    ReplyDelete
  8. A 2008 Department of Sustainability and Environment pamphlet shows Bill's SBC police camp site but does not attribute it to him. DSE is a precursor to

    Scroll down to the map and past and below the Kelly Tree site to the area marked "Kelly Gang & Police Shoot out Site". That's Bill's site.

    http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/225734/The_Kelly_Tree_and_Stringybark_Camping_Reserve.pdf

    Came across this 2009 Bill image tonight which I hadn't seen before:

    https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC1RH9Y_the-shootout-at-stringybark-creek

    There is endless evidence Bill Denheld is right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Norm, had a look at the first link you supplied. By the look of the location marked on the map as "Kelly Gang & Police Shootout Site", I don't think that is where Bill says it is. He puts it on the other side of Stringybark Creek. You can see this in the other link you provided. But I do support Bill's identification of the shootout site.

      Delete
  9. Spudee, Bill's site is just up the road northwards past the "Kelly tree" as shown in the map. Ian Jones's wrong site is on the other, western side, of Stringybark Creek. CSI@SBC's wrong site is somewhere beside the "Kelly tree".

    Mark, I understand Adam Ford may be part of the problem leading to the exclusion of Bill by the forthcoming Genepool tv production. I may be wrong - but in my opinion, anything that excludes Bill Denheld's SBC police camp site is deficient, negligent, and a gross historical error that will be endlessly criticised in future. I will be one of those critics.

    Its high time Bill's decisive research was accepted by all instead of white-anted by ignorant people who have done none of the hard yards in the bush as Bill has done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Horrie, very interested to hear of the forthcoming Genepool TV production. What is this about? If anyone comes up with the supposed site of Kennedy's death, how is it possible to categorically confirm the location? I support Bill's hypothesis about a general area but I can't see how anyone can be precise. But of course we have vested interests at play here as was the case in the 'official' location of the police camp site and shootout. If it is the same group involved we will probably see another travesty connected to the story.

      Delete
    2. Spudee, I can't help much because my corres with them was taking up too much email space. However, this might help a bit:

      https://www.facebook.com/Ned.Kelly.Legend/posts/1806178796311683

      Delete
    3. From what I can gather from googling, it seems it is going to be a part of a 4 part documentary series called Lawless: The Real Bushrangers.

      You will have to scroll down to find the pertinent info -

      https://decidertv.com/page/2016/12/12/australian-productions-on-foxtel-in-2017-include

      Also info here -

      https://australiaonscreen.com/film/lawless-the-real-bushrangers-at-aidc-2017/

      Delete
    4. Hi Horrie. Interesting. I didn't know about Fords possible involvement. It will indeed be a travesty if Bills site is not given due consideration. He certainly bloody deserves it. His research has been fascinating to track at SBC.

      Delete
  10. It is abundantly obvious that Bill Denheld's SBC police camp has all the required evidence of the two huts, fireplaces, logs and conforms to the contemporary Burman photo.

    NONE of the other sites have this evidence.

    End of story.

    Bill is right!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Horrie, you seem so sure about a Bill's SBC site, and it is true that he has worked hard to determine a plausible area and theory, but what if Adam Ford has located the actual site? Surely you and Bill would concede that real science and archeology supersedes guess work and ego.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous, and I am guessing you're a CSI member or someone linked to them, if Adam Ford is a real archaeologist and not just a journalist with a degree, he should publish his findings in a reputable Scientific journal for everyone to examine, to critique and to agree or disagree with his findings and his argument. If Adam Ford is a real archaeologist he wouldn't be doing his 'research' in secret and requiring everyone involved to keep quiet about it, he would be looking at ALL the possible sites and talking to ALL the interested parties and proponents of theories about where the actual site is, and he wouldn't be encouraging "Signage" to be erected until well after his findings had been revealed and ALL the actual stakeholders and interested parties had been offered an opportunity to comment on them. THAT is how Science works anonymous. It doesn't work by secretly devising a pseudo-scientific story and using your name and reputation to trick officials who know nothing about Archaeology or Science into believing what you've done was genuine science. If what we are all getting a sense of, is actually happening, that the CSI team site is about to be the subject of new "Signage" then that will be yet another kick in the guts for the slain Police from that place, whose memory is once again being used for political purposes as visitor will once again be going to the WRONG PLACE.

      If you really have proof Bill is wrong and there's actual proof that another place is THE site, then put it up NOW. What are hiding from? Why are you so scared to say exactly what's happening? I can only conclude its because you are not confident in your arguments but you don't want the Authorities finding out what a sham the CSI report is and that what you're actually doing is just trying to silence Bill, who got it right and left you guys for dead.

      Delete
    2. I was actually referring my question to Horrie, Dee unless you are actually Horrie? By the way where has Bill Denheld gone? Perhaps Bill now is Horrie?
      This site is very confusing, what is meant by CSI member? I'm not a member of this group.

      Delete
    3. My apologies Anonymous. I mistook you for someone who was familiar with the debate but obviously you're not. CSI refers to a team of amateur historians that once included Bill Denheld, who published a document that I reviewed last year on this Blog. It was report of their investigation into the "crime scene" at Stringybark Creek, and they abbreviated it to CSI@SBC, meaning the Crime Scene Investigation at Stringy Bark Creek.

      And no I am not Horrie or Bill or Ian or Warren. For the billion and one more time I am Dee, I post as Dee I never post as anyone else, I have no idea who Warren is and so now could you perhaps enlighten us as to what you know about Adam Ford and SBC.?

      Delete
  12. I was very chuffed to buy Grantlee Kieza's "Mrs Kelly" at a book signing on Friday, and meet him to congratulate him, as with recommendations by Sharon and others I have every confidence it has been well done. I am reading two short chapters a night, and want to say it is a great read. It tells her story in the present tense ("She opens the door and sees", etc.), in a similar style to Peter FitzSimon's Kelly book, but it has been done with fresh eyes from a huge amount of primary document checking and quoting. In other words it is not just another slavish retelling of the Kenneally-originated persecution myth continued by Brown. It is very sympathetic to Mrs Kelly and the extraordinarily hard life and disappointments that she faced and somehow survived, despite the extended criminal network of relatives (and later, of offspring) within which she lived. As I am only up to chapter 4, I can't offer many observations yet, but can note two things.

    First, much is disputed about practically every aspect of the Kelly story, starting from his birth. Kieza’s review of the evidence leads him to accept December 1854 as the most likely date, as did Ian Jones. As a result, there is a similar tying in to the “legacy” of the Eureka Stockade for a few pages. I on the other hand follow Alan Creighton, on Iron Outlaw, http://www.ironoutlaw.com/keep-ya-powder-dry/ned-kellys-lost-birthday/ , that Ned Kelly was born in June 1855, for the reasons he puts forward there. One might say that 6 months either way doesn’t really matter, and this is right, given that Ned Kelly from his early teens was always thought a couple of years older than he was. But it does influence claims of early association with politically rebellious feelings of which the Kelly story is in fact largely bereft. These begin with Red Kelly’s claims to have been transported for agrarian outrage or murdering his landlord, that Max Brown felt sympathy with; then extend through the spirit of Eureka with much the same enthusiasm as if its’ ghost had somehow entered Ned at birth in December 1854 and miraculously emerged to express itself in his career of stock theft… Anyway, the Mrs Kelly story is off to a flying and very enjoyable start.

    Second, someone told me there is a web comment that my “Redeeming Fitzpatrick” article had been ignored by Kieza, despite Dee mentioning that I had been referenced. I shot ahead to have a look at his Fitzpatrick chapter last night, and while it is true that his bibliography lists only books, not articles, my article is referenced a couple of times in the notes, and I am directly quoted once in that section (chapter 11, note 80.). More important, however, Kieza has clearly checked every relevant reference from my article for himself, as he references back to the primary source documents. So my article has not been “followed”; it has been used as a reference source just like any other reference, to be read and accepted or rejected on its own merits. I was pleased to see he has found a couple of other references that I hadn’t used, that also support the argument, and thereby further confirm that the argument holds up. I look forward to resuming the tale at chapter 5, about Harry Power.

    ReplyDelete
  13. A new objective review of Kieza's Mrs Kelly book is in the Australian newspaper, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/ned-kellys-mother-ellen-revived-in-biography-by-grantlee-kieza/news-story/de99f55b58441fcc0acbd3aed916a4c3

    ReplyDelete
  14. Page numbers in these comments refer to Kieza's book. Picking up at Chapter 5,after scrimping and saving, Ellen Kelly scrapes up enough to move to a vacant selection on the Eleven Mile Creek, an 88 acre partly cleared block. Harry Power met a couple of Lloyds in gaol, and, after escaping, Harry headed for NE Victoria and built a hideout above Quinn senior’s place in the King Valley where he commenced bushranging, preying on anyone from well off coach travellers to passing bullockies. He was no Robin Hood, let us be clear. Meanwhile Ellen had turned the selection, which she was incapable of farming unaided, into a rough bed and breakfast and sly grog shanty, and in a part time relationship with boundary rider Bill Frost, who got her pregnant then abandoned her for another woman.

    The 14 year old Ned Kelly became Powers’ accomplice in armed robbery, apparently mostly keeping out of sight minding their horses while the egotistical Harry did the sticking-up. Keiza implausibly suggests that Ellen didn’t know what her oldest youngster was up to (p.85), but this is belied by Power’s later comment to the ‘Vagabond’ journalist, that “I paid the whole [Quinn] family well” (118), which seems to have been ignored by all commentators. Young Kelly was already comfortable lying in court to provide an alibi for his recent brother in law’s son over stolen sheep (88). The Royal Commission regarded Ned as an ‘incorrigible thief’ from an early age (91), and as Kieza’ seemingly endless list of his youthful doings shows, it is not hard to see why. It is a well written, readable tale, and look forward to continuing with Chapter 6.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Good review of Mr Kiesa's Ellen Kelly book in today's (1 April 2017) Australian. Also passing mentions of the MacFarlane (polemical) and Morrissey (more vituperative) books.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/mrs-kellys-astonishing-life-neds-mother-and-her-outlaw-family/news-story/cbe7664197a288d846aa71e43d1c9e57

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes it is a good review and nice to see that Stuart's work is also getting a mention.

      Delete

1. Moderation is back on. I haven’t got time to be constantly monitoring what comments are made and deleting the mindless rubbish that Kelly sympathisers have been posting lately. Please post polite sensible comments, avoid personal abuse and please use the same name whenever you Post, even if its a made-up name.


2. Do you want to provide an active Link in your Comment? The simplest way that I can suggest is to click HEREand follow the simple instructions. This site creates the Tag that you then copy and insert into your Comment.