For more information on Sharon Hollingsworth and Brian Stevenson please see the sidebar for the About Your Humble Bloggers link.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Article Alert: Bearded Ladies will have Ned Kelly in Stitches

from google alerts..

There is an article in the Border Mail called "Bearded Ladies will have Ned Kelly in Stitches."

From the article:

The Ned’s Needles competition, inspired by Ned Kelly’s beard and the winter cold, aims to find the best, most creative and most realistic knitted beard.

Indigo Council’s art and culture development officer Susan Reid said there would be no lack of inspiration about town.

“We seem to have a disproportionate number of bearded men in Beechworth, and always have,” she said.

In fact, the idea for the competition arose from that very observation.

“We were having a conversation with our tour guides, those guys all have very interesting beards, and I offered to knit a woman a beard to keep her warm, and the idea took off,” Ms Reid said.....

To read more:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Review of "Glenrowan: The Siege that Shaped a Nation" [Sharon Hollingsworth]

Back in the early days of this blog I had bemoaned the fact that there were only the juvenile primer-type Ned Kelly books being published on a regular basis and had asked when the next big in depth Kelly tome would be published. I guess that the newly released book by  entitled "Glenrowan: The Siege that Shaped a Nation" fits the bill as being big and in depth. (This blog was also the first Kelly site to announce that the book was  being released this year and after publication a friend told me how I got a mention in the bibliography for which I was very pleasantly surprised.)

This past week I was sent a copy of the book by one of my new Kelly blog friends, Neal from NSW. I am very grateful to him for being so kind, helpful and generous.

Looking around the Kelly sites I have seen a few bits and pieces of what others have had to say about the book, so I guess it is my turn to give it a go. Get ready!

When I heard that the book was coming out I assumed that it was going to only be about the Siege of Glenrowan (silly me!). I suppose it had to have the bits leading up to the siege and what the aftermath was so that those not aware of the full Kelly story could come up to speed or those who were familiar with it could have a refresher course. It would have suited me fine to be only about the siege, though! At least the chapters on the siege take up the bulk of the book. Those chapters are easily the best in the book.
Mr Shaw did a really admirable job overall with "Glenrowan." 
Shaw has some good insights into certain characters in the saga, as well as the social fabric of the area. It is a very good book, but it could have been a great book if only a bit more care might have been taken in fact finding and research. There are a few errors in the book and those will be looked at in depth in a bit.

When you start the book there is a list of the "Cast of Characters." You have to love something that tells it like it is, like with Hare: "ambitious protege of Standish" and Steele: "opinionated and driven" or Sr Constable John Kelly: "experienced but unambitious." Of Constable Kirkham he says: "Sociable and very mobile at Glenrowan." Later in the book he repeatedly drives home the somewhat irresponsible social butterfly aspect of Kirkham's behaviour at the siege. I was taken a little aback at it, as I really like Thomas Kirkham - he was goring my ox! I did, however, get a big laugh at the running joke about Constable Dwyer and the "bottle."

I like the part in the book where he says that no one saw the big picture of the siege but that when all of the little moments everyone experienced were put together it made the big picture come into view. He called it a "mosaic." I also liked where he described what I call wheels within wheels about the different levels of Kelly sympathizers radiating out from a center.

Ok, now on to the errors part. As I was reading the book I kept a pad and pen to hand to jot down page numbers and notes about what just did not sound right to me fact-wise. Some checked out to be true, but I found quite a few that were very wrong. I am going to list some of them (though there are more and there might be some I have missed) and give the correct information. I will only give the source in a place or two as I am writing a conversational type blog, not a book!  Besides, I don't want to spoil anyone's fun in seeking out the information for themselves. I don't put these corrections here with malicious glee to show how smart I am or to big note how well acquainted with the Kelly story I am. I put them here to help out readers to aid them in getting to the truth of the Kelly saga. That is the only thing that matters.

Note that in the back of the book Ian W. Shaw tells about using primary sources to piece the story together and he had this interesting bit:

"If there are errors, they are mine, and they reflect my beliefs about the most likely occurrence of sequence in a particular setting, based on what is happening elsewhere and how the characters behaved previously."

(I guess that is what was done with the Dan and Steve and the laudanum bit where no one really knows the go?)

Ok, with all that said, here are a few of the things I picked up on:

Names gotten wrong:

Charles Tettleton should be Charles Nettleton

Father Doraghy should be Father Donaghy

Dr Baker should be Dr Barker

Sherrit should be Sherritt

Mary Barry should be Ellen Barry

Jock McHugh/Neil Jock McHugh  should be  Neil McHugh

Dr Hutchison should be Dr Hutchinson

Arthur Loftus Maul Steele should be Arthur Loftus Maule Steele

WH Cookson should be BW Cookson

Neil Metcalfe should be George Metcalf

James Simson should be James Simpson

Diseased Stock Inspector should be Diseased Stock Agent (DSA)

In the list of prisoners at the front of the book it has "Catherine Mortimer, sister of Isobel Curnow, who lived at Glenrowan." It should be Catherine Curnow, sister of Thomas Curnow."  Catherine was visiting Glenrowan from Ballarat.

The list of workers bailed up at the quarrymen's tents has mistakenly added John Delaney's name. There is also a name on it that I am not familiar with, "John Maitland."

Book has John Nicolson in a place that should be Charles Nicolson in reference to him resuming his position in the hunt for the Kellys.

Book has the Felon's Apprehension Act being called The Outlaw Act, it should be The Outlawry Act.

The book has both McIntyre and Lonigan sitting on the log when the camp was bailed up, only Lonigan was, McIntyre was by the fire stirring the pot.

The book has McIntyre "discarding" his boots while on the run from Stringybark Creek. He actually arrived at McColl's farmhouse with one boot on and one under his arm, so they were not fully discarded.

The book has Standish moving headquarters from Melbourne to Wangaratta. It was moved to Benalla. Remember how he was always staying at Craven's Commercial Hotel?

The book has the Euroa bank raid taking place on December 12, 1878 when it was December 10, 1878.

The book has Ned Kelly dictating the Jerilderie Letter to Joe Byrne in one session at Faithful's Creek Station at the time of Euroa. Not so, Joe Byrne merely made copies of the Cameron Letter at that time and place.

The book says that Aaron and his bride moved into a two room slab hut he had built on his property. It was a two room abandoned hut that he merely took over and had to pay off the real owner (with money borrowed from one of the policemen staying in the hut with them) when he returned!

The book suggests that gossip around the Woolshed was that Detective Michael Ward was the father of Mrs Aaron Sherritt's unborn child! I had read about him interfering with young schoolgirls in the area, but not Ellen Barry Sherritt by name.

The book says that there were half a dozen canvas tents near the Inn in Glenrowan. There were only four of them. (Maybe the "half a dozen" idea came from an illustration of Glenrowan showing the tents on which the number 6 is overlaid? The 6 is a key which indicates what it is on the page and captioned at the bottom, and is not the number of tents.)

The book has Bracken as previously having been a guard at Beechworth Prison. Actually, he was a guard at the Lunatic Asylum in Beechworth.

The book has Superintendent Hare sending an invitation to Charles Rawlins to join the contingent on the police train. Not true. Rawlins himself testified for the Reward Board saying that:

"On Sunday afternoon I was in Benalla, and I heard about the murder of Sherritt, and I went down to the station, and, hearing a train was going away, I spoke to the station master, and he told me that the train had left Melbourne at half-past ten o'clock that evening. This was about eleven o'clock that I was there. He said a train would be at Benalla about half-past two o'clock. I went on to the station when it reached Benalla, and met Mr. Hare, and I told him that the station master said that providing Mr. Hare would allow me to go on the train he would have no objection. I have a free pass on all the Victorian Railways."

Book has the Glenrowan postmaster Hillmorton Reynolds seeing Ann Jones and Ned Kelly talking in the breeze-way at the Inn when Ann said "look out, Ned, he is going to escape!" It was not Hillmorton Reynolds, as he was left at  home during the siege, it was his brother Edward Reynolds.

Book has Martin Cherry and Dave Mortimer carrying the wounded Johnny Jones to the kitchen at the Inn. Ann and Jane were the ones who did it according to their testimony.

Joe's final toast before his death is worded differently in the book than it is in Ian Jones's A Short Life.

The book has Dan and Steve lifting and moving Joe Byrne's body and taking it down to one of the bedrooms at the Inn. Rev Gibney and others testified to finding the body in the barroom where he fell. They may have had to lift him off of a couple of prisoners that he fell across, but they did not take him down the passageway into a bedroom.

The book has where when Ned said his feet were cold that a tin of warm water was brought in for him to soak his feet in. Actually, in testimony, it was said that a kerosene tin of water was heated and placed against his feet.

The lights proposed to be brought to Glenrowan were not designed by the Gov Astronomer. They were designed by Lt Thomas Draper. See my blog post called Part 1: Calling for a Cannon and Asking for a Light for more info:

In the book it says that Dan and Steve committed suicide by taking laudanum. It was said that the previously sought for lost packet was found and that is what it contained. While this may be what happened, there is no actual proof.

Book has 3 policemen  dragging Joe's body from the Inn. It was actually two, Armstrong and Dwyer.

Book has the cannon and artillerymen actually arriving in Glenrowan. Not so, they were turned back at Seymour as the siege was over by the time they reached that station. See Part 2 of Calling for a Cannon and Asking for a Light:

Book has Aaron's inquest on the same day as Joe Byrne's. Not so, the papers said that Aaron's inquest was on Monday June 28, not Tuesday, the 30th like Joe's was.

The Book has Ned Kelly leaving Melbourne under guard on a train bound for Beechworth on Monday August 9, 1880 for a preliminary hearing. The actual date that Ned left Melbourne was on Sunday August 1, 1880.

Book says Owen Jones (Ann Jones's husband) died in the late 1880s. Owen Jones died in 1890.

Book has Michael Reardon getting a government pension of a pound per year. It was actually a pound per week...52 pounds per year!

Book has Hare's memoirs as coming out in 1891. It was published in 1892.

Book has Kate's baby Catherine being born in 1889. Baby Catherine was born in 1898.

Ok, there you have it. If anyone would like to chime in about any of this, please feel free to do so.

Friday, May 18, 2012

20th Anniversary Edition of The Shenandoah Affair Now Available

Regular readers of this blog may recall that I had done a review of the
based-on-fact historical novel "The Shenandoah Affair" by Paul Williams
back in March of 2011 which can be read at
A few months after that posting I was contacted by the novel's author
himself who thanked me for the rave review. A little later on I did a
review of another of Paul's books "Matthew Brady & Ned Kelly: Kindred
Spirits, Kindred Lives
" and I did an e-mail interview with him regarding
the book which can be found at
 Paul and I became regular correspondents and fast friends in the
ensuing months. Paul expressed a desire to re-release "The Shenandoah
" this year (2012) as it marked the 20th anniversary of it first
being published. To that end Paul has rewritten and enhanced the book and has added extensive author's notes.  These notes runs to well over 12,000 words. It is like getting two books for the price of one.

 I was able to help by doing what I do best -
research in old newspapers, archives and books - which augmented Paul's already extensive study. I also helped with proof-reading and being an all round sounding-board. The novel, that was an excellent read before, is even better now
with a new and more factual ending (in the original he had the
Shenandoah blowing up for literary effect. In this new edition that
event does not happen and the course is set for the real events to
unfold). At the end of the novel, the author's notes, entitled "The True Story of the Cruise of the CSS Shenandoah" tells of the trip Paul took to the United States from his native Australia in the early 90s in a quest for more information for his novel. What he found out, though it confirmed some of his earlier deductions, was quite astonishing to him and eventually more pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place. When he began research for the 20th anniversary edition of the book he uncovered what caused Captain James Iredell Waddell of the C.S.S. Shenandoah to circumnavigate the globe and head for Liverpool (despite a mutinous crew who were horrified at the prospect of attack by a Federal cruiser) after hearing of the end of the Civil War, rather than go to the nearest safe port. All of that is given in full detail.

For those who have read the book,
you need to read it again and for those who have not read it,  I highly recommend that you get a copy. The Author's Notes are worth the price of admission
alone. (One advisory, the book has some rather erotic passages so it's
not recommended for children nor for those who wish to avoid that type
of romantic writing.)

The Shenandoah Affair by Paul Williams is available through

(Note: Please but sure to get the 2012 edition to get the added author's notes, as some re-sellers on the net are offering the original book from 1992.)

Now, here are a few thoughts from Paul Williams:

When commencing research on the Shenandoah back in 1990 for a first novel, having only written screenplays before, I had no idea what an amazing journey I was embarking on, a journey that would rewrite the story of the Shenandoah. When I first read of the angry Mrs Nichols leaving the ship saying "I wish that steamer may be burned" it was my intention to have her involved in a gunpowder plot to destroy the vessel. [Mrs. Nichols was a real-life Yankee "prisoner of war" after her and her husband's ship was captured and burned] But what a different picture emerged when I started sifting through the documents! Firstly a true love story unknown to history, and then 20 years later, when researching for a new edition with your invaluable help, the true reasons for the Shenandoah being the only Confederate ship to circumnavigate the globe. And it all went back to the beguiling Lillias Nichols. As I said, an amazing journey.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Article Alert: Rainhill Man to Solve the Mystery of Ned Kelly's Skull

from google alerts..

The St. Helens Reporter of Thursday 17 May 2012 has an article called Rainhill man to solve the mystery of Ned Kelly’s skull.

It begins with:

The skull of a Rainhill man may have been mistakenly exhibited for decades as the remains of Australia’s most infamous outlaw Ned Kelly.

Frederick Deeming was executed in 1892 after he butchered his wife and four children in St Helens before fleeing to Melbourne where he went on to commit a second murder.

Deeming and Kelly’s remains - along with a number of other executed prisoners - were exhumed in 1929 from the burial grounds at Melbourne Old Gaol....

It continues later in the article with:

Media reports in Australia say they have now applied to the Church of England for permission to exhume the grave of Deeming’s brother, Alfred.

If successful, they hope DNA samples from Alfred’s remains will prove the skull belonged to Deeming.

Australia’s Attorney-General Robert Clark has now said he will also write to the UK’s Ministry of Justice asking for help....

To read in full:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My dog's photo was in today's newspaper

I know this is not Ned Kelly related, but  I just wanted to brag on one of my dogs, Banjo, whose photo was featured  in today's newspaper.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Event Alert: The Ned Kelly Project at the OMG May 17, 2012

Michael Ball alerted me to this event found at

The Ned Kelly Project

Thursday 17 May 2012

Old Melbourne Gaol

377 Russell Street, Melbourne

6:30pm – 8:30pm

Tickets: $30

Bookings essential



Phone: 03 8663 7260


Come along to the Heritage Trust’s Heritage Festival and hear experts from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine and Heritage Victoria explain this historically significant investigation into the story of Ned Kelly’s remains from the moment he was executed at the Old Melbourne Gaol in 1880.

Hear from the team who successfully identified Ned Kelly’s skeletal remains exhumed in 1929 from Pentridge Prison and why questions remained about the “Ned Kelly” skull that was stolen from the Old Melbourne Gaol Museum in 1978.

If the skull isn’t Ned Kelly’s, whose is it?