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


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Mr. Living: The Bank Teller with the Crooked Halo [Sharon Hollingsworth]

Recently I was looking around in the appendices of the book "Ned Kelly: After a Century of Acrimony" by John Meredith and Bill Scott and ran across an intriguing entry under "Books and Mention in Books" -

Meudell, George   'The Pleasant Career of a Spendthrift' Pp. 74-79. London, Routledge, 1929.

I was curious to know what the man who originally coined the phrase "Australia for the Australians" had to say about Ned Kelly. I then checked Brian McDonald's "What They Said About Ned" to see if the book was listed. It was and the notation for it said:

"In the chapter "Banks and Bankers" he mentions the precautions taken in the Bank of Victoria at the tiny branch of Corop during the Kelly reign."

Next step was finding a free copy online to read. That was soon accomplished through the wonderful Internet Archive.

Parts of the book not even having to do with the Kellys are of great interest (and some were allegedly very controversial in their era), and he had one really good quote that I would like to share here (almost wish I could have a skywriter emblazon it across the horizon!) -

It is almost impossible to carry the torch of truth
through a crowd without singeing somebody's beard.

Ok, now on to the Kelly-ness!

Mr. Meudell opens up his discourse on the Kellys with this gratifying statement:

"Ned Kelly was a man born out of his time with no education excepting his great knowledge of the

Book of the Bush; his leaping thought, rapid action and fertility of resource marked him as a clever

fighter who in a modern war could have entered as a private and ended as a general."

A few more paragraphs go on about the exploits of the Kellys, but the most fascinating anecdote concerns the Jerilderie Raid and its aftermath and Mr. Meudell's association with Edwin Living. You will recall that Edwin Living (sometimes referred to as Edward Living, and even as Lyving) was the accountant at the Bank of New South Wales when the Kellys came to call in February of 1879.

Text from the book:

I met the Kelly gang only in their works and
through Ted Living, my fellow-bank clerk. At one
time Living was accountant at the bank of N.S.W.
branch at Jerilderie, a small N.S.W. town north of
the Murray River. The Kellys had already robbed
three banks and had been posted missing four months
until suddenly and early on a Sunday morning they
appeared at Jerilderie police station. The Kelly gang
rode into the police yard and bailed up the three
policemen whom they locked in the cells. Then the
Kellys donned the policemen's Sunday clothes. In
full sight of the public they spent the day in the
precincts of the gaol and Ned Kelly escorted the ser-
geant's wife to the Roman Catholic church on Sunday
morning and stood guard while she dusted the church
before the visiting clergyman arrived. All day the
gang held the police and not a townsman knew. On
Sunday night they cut the few telegraph wires leading
from the town, telephones and automobiles were not
then invented. Tartleton, the manager, and Living,
the accountant and teller of the Bank of New South
Wales, had been at near-by stations spending Saturday
and Sunday, and they rode to the bank early on
Monday. Tartleton went upstairs for a shower bath
and Living got out his cash and sorted his notes.
The junior clerk had left the front door ajar. Ned
Kelly walked in a little before ten and placing the
muzzle of a Brown Bess rifle against Living's temple,
ordered him to put up his hands, which Ted did with
much zeal and rapidity. Ned said, "Gimme yer keys,"
and Ted replied with the swiftness of a flashlight,
" All right, Mr. Kelly." By this time Steve Hart
had been upstairs and collected Tartleton at the
point of his rifle from under the shower. Tartleton
dropped his soap, threw up his arms and said, "Won't
you let me dry meself." "No bally fear," said Mr.
Hart. "Come along down as y'ar." And come as
he was he did in nine and one-fifth seconds by the
stop watch. Mr. Ned Kelly then filled two saddle-
bags from the safes and tills with notes and gold
valued at pounds 15,000. A big heavy canvas bag took
his fancy, and he was about to drag it along when
Living smilingly remarked, "Them's coppers, mister.'
"That be damned for a yarn," said Ned, but
he drew a jack knife, used for trimming his nails
and cutting tobacco, from his pocket, cut the bag
and punted pennies with his boots all over the bank
floor. "Come and 'av a drink," said their genial
host, Mr. Edward Kelly, so they left the bank to its
fate, disdaining to take title deeds and overdrafts,
loans and advances, and crossed the road to the
public house. Dan Kelly and Byrne had rounded up
every man, woman and child in the village and put
them in the pub. The police had been given some
tucker and beer and were left in the lock up. They
missed all the fun that day.
Just as the gang entered the hotel corridor, Dan
Kelly had drawn a bead with his gun on the publican
who had suggested that Daniel was tipsy. Ned threw
his brother's rifle up and the bullet was shot into the
ceiling instead of through Boniface. One shearer
had a concertina and another a fiddle, so the bar room
was cleared and everybody danced. The Messrs.
Kelly generously bought drinks for all hands, most
generously and frequently, and by noon both cellar
and bar were empty of anything to drink. Living
managed to slip out the back door over to the bank
stable, got his horse and rode like Steve Donoghue,
Tod Sloan and Frank Dempsey, not gracefully but
very fast, towards Deniliquin to break the news.
When he reached the telegraph office his favourite
prad fell down dead. He bought it as a colt for
five pounds. Very bravely Ted pushed on with the
good work, took the first train for Melbourne, and
turned up at ten o'clock precisely next morning before
one Walsh, the inspector of the Bank of New South
Wales in Melbourne armed with a huge red and yellow
carpet bag. Walsh, without looking up said, "What's
that for," and Living brazenly replied, "Want more."
"More what? " said Walsh. "Cash," hinted Ted.
"Mr. Kelly took the lot on Sunday." "Oh, did he,"
said Walsh, and without taking breath, said, "Mr.
Living, why are you absent from your branch without
leave?' Of course the newspapers had answered
that for Ted. However, old Walsh said, "Go back
at once to Jerilderie by the noon train." Then he
relaxed, and Ted and I spent a joyous night with the
lads of the village (and some of the lassies) telling
about the vile and rude behaviour of the Kelly gang
in collaring fifteen thousand of the "best," mixed
and all that it was. Ned Kelly gave Living an account
of his life written in his own blood. This we tried
to sell to the Melbourne newspapers, but the best
offer by Sam Winter of the Melbourne "Herald"
was only five pounds, so Living kept the MS. which
was afterwards lost by a friend. Tartleton was so
angry with Walsh's harsh reception that he resigned
from the bank. By midnight on Tuesday neither
Ted's halo or mine fitted nicely, but we both agreed
the Kelly gang ought to have made the event a
quarterly affair.

Well, that was quite a lively report! I spotted quite a few boo boos (there are some real doozies) but will let you the readers figure out what is what for yourselves for a refreshing change.

I am wondering how and when George Meudell made the acquaintance of Edwin Living. Did they know each other from a previous job posting at a bank? Or did they first meet that day in Melbourne as two young men full of excitement and adventure and ready to take on the world? Living was 29 and unmarried and Meudell was 19 and also single, so I can well see them falling in together and painting the town red.

Accounts like this one really helps to bring the people of the Kelly saga to life, doesn't it? Can't you just see Ted Living propping up the bar and telling his tale (even if not exactly with a Harry Flashman-like "and I alone survived" edge to it but still properly embellished in pertinent parts) to a rapt audience eager to buy him drinks and lap up his every word?

According to "100 Years in Jerilderie," Mr. Living (hopefully with halo back in place) and Tarleton (the proper spelling) returned to Jerilderie on Thursday with the carpet bag full of money (with a trooper in tow) to replace what was taken during the Kelly Gang raid. Also, interestingly, according to a newspaper account, on Living's way to Melbourne the train made a stop in his old stomping ground of Castlemaine, where news of the robbery and Living's journey had already been telegraphed, and his mother and uncle and old friends rushed to the station "anxious to see that he was not maimed and wounded in the encounter with the noted bushrangers."

To read what came before and after the Jerilderie Raid portion of Meudell's book, please see the link below.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

My review of The Iron Fists of Ned Kelly (the latest in the Fight Card book series) [Sharon Hollingsworth]

I recently ran across a new series of books at, (also available at, called "Fight Card" in which several authors write under the shared pen name "Jack Tunney" (which is culled from the famed American boxers named Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney).  Some in the series are available as a kindle e-book, some in paperback and some in both formats. According to the Fight Card website "The books in the Fight Card series are monthly 25,000 word novelettes, designed to be read in one or two sittings, and are inspired by the fight pulps of the '30s and '40s...."

The one I have previously read and enjoyed featured Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson involved in a mystery in the shadowy underworld of Victorian London's bare-knuckled fighters with Holmes himself going a few rounds with former champs. Good stuff!

I got really excited when I saw that there was one in the series entitled "The Iron Fists of Ned Kelly" (based on the 1874 brawl between Ned Kelly and Wild Wright) that was released in e-book form on November 11, 2014, a very fitting launch date. See now that it is available in print, will definitely be ordering that. The cover art is fantastic, really evocative of another era in publishing made to look like a well-thumbed and somewhat yellowed, musty (or musky?), perhaps cigarette smoke infused book featuring Ned and Wild battling it out. I would actually love to get an enlarged poster of this cover!

These links give some background information on this title and an image of the cover.

The gentleman who takes a turn as Jack Tunney for The Iron Fists of Ned Kelly is David Foster. He does a wonderful job bringing the young Ned Kelly to life. Actually, Ned is more real here while being part of "speculative fiction" than he has been portrayed in many works of straightforward fact. When I got to the end of this book, I was like "Whoa! Wait!!! I want more, more, MORE......" But, it seems I am putting the cart before the horse, best if we go to the beginning and see how the story begins and progresses. No worries about me giving spoilers, because if you know the Kelly story, then you know the basic plot line. I duly note that this is a work of historical fiction and that dialogue has been invented, some characters and situations have been invented and so forth. I accept that. I applaud that. Just me being me, though, I like to point out some things that are not exactly in keeping with the known facts so anyone new to the Kelly world might gain proper insight.

As the book opens, we first encounter Ned in his cell at the Old Melbourne Gaol on the night before his execution. He is thinking back of what has led him to this place in time. During the course of this Father O'Hea stops by to visit with Ned to offer comfort. Ned reaches into the back of his copy of Lorna Doone and gives O'Hea two letters written for his mother and sister Maggie and asks him to see that they get them. Ned soon begins to tell Father O'Hea about some of the events of his past with emphasis on one escapade in particular. His tale begins in 1870 when a hawker named Gould had a wagon bogged in mud and sought help in getting it out. The ever obliging and industrious young Ned goes to help and soon has it extracted from the quagmire. Within a short while a horse appears before them having bolted away from a rival hawker, Jeremiah McCormack (actually McCormick, but it was spelled as McCormack in the Jerilderie Letter so I see why it was used). Gould recognises it as McC's horse and Ned offers to take it to town and see it gets back to its rightful owner. When Ned does this, the ill tempered McC is rude and abusive and grabs the wrong end of the stick, jumping to all sorts of ill-conceived conclusions, and starts a fight with Ned. Later McC goes to Constable Hall to make a complaint against the young ruffian saying Ned assaulted him and stole his horse's blanket. (supposedly it was Jim Kelly who took the horse to town to give back to McC. McC went to the Kelly homestead and fussed at Gould who was staying there until the roads dried up about how Gould had used his horse, etc) A bunch of stuff goes down, none of it good, with the main one going down Ned Kelly! Throughout all this no mention was made of the note and calf's testicles that really got things going. So, Ned was off to gaol for a while.

Fast forward a little while to the next year, 1871. In Beechworth, Ethan Rogers (actually was Edward Rogers) was the owner of the Imperial Hotel. He bemoaned the fact of how he had to keep making repairs to his barroom a little too often than he would have liked because Isaiah "Wild" Wright would inevitably bust the place up when he was in his cups. We are treated to a fun little episode/exercise/romp wherein two young rubes are apparently not acquainted with Wild's reputation (as the unofficial bare knuckle champion of the North East, no less) and refuse to get out of his way when he wanted to belly up to the bar. During the melee, which Wild easily wins even against two opponents, he "unleashes his trademark punch - a rugged haymaker - or a wild-right, as the locals called it." The two lads went down for the count and Wild was still ready to fight! After a bit of drinking and carousing he was making his way home on foot and comes across a welcoming sight - the postmaster's horse grazing by the side of the road so he decides to "borrow it." Alarm bells should be ringing about now for all Kelly enthusiasts!

Meanwhile in the book Ned Kelly has been released from gaol and has a long hard slog home, arriving to find a celebration in progress. It was not for him, though, because they did not know he had been released. This was an engagement party for his sister Annie and a young man named Alex Gunn (actually, they were wed in 1869). At the party Alex introduces Ned to his good friend Wild Wright. Wild says that his horse had strayed and was wondering if he could have use of one of Ned's horses until his could be found (hopefully by Ned) and they could do the exchange. With Alex vouching for his friend, Ned agrees not realizing that the horse in question was a stolen one. (actually this event took place 3 weeks after Ned got home, not the first day, but I suppose the narrative had to be quickly and neatly moved forward).

Having found the mare, Ned decided to ride it around a while, still blissfully unaware of her stolen status. Constable Hall, who played a large part in him being sent to gaol before, saw him and decided to arrest him for horse theft. Even though Ned kept saying that the horse belonged to Wild Wright, Hall was having none of it and attempted to murder Ned right there in the street, thankfully the gun misfired three times. What ensues next is a battle between Ned and Hall with Ned delivering "a brutal uppercut that caught Hall on the point of the chin." The true story is that Ned did not hit Hall, remember in the Jerilderie Letter where he said "I dare not strike him or my sureties would lose the bond money." However, he did grab him by the collar and trip him. Ned said "I threw him on his belly I straddled him raked both spurs into his thigh." That doesn't really sound like riding him like a horse as the book says, but it makes for a jolly good read and mental image. Anyway, it all ended up with Hall getting the better of him after Ned was grabbed by Lonigan of all people (this was just to drive the plot along because Ned would not meet Lonigan or have any dealings with him whatsoever until 1877) and another trooper and Hall beat him about the head with the butt of his revolver.  Ned goes away again after not being free for long. He was given 3 years gaol time, Wild was given 18 months and though the book says Alex for his part in it all got 18 months it was really 3 years also.

The story proceeds with Ned having a fuss/set to with some cranky prisoner inside the gaol and for the first time he gets to meet Father O'Hea acting in capacity as gaol chaplain.

After serving his time he heads home again in 1874, finding that during his absence that his brother Jim had been gaoled for 5 years and that his sister Annie had died in childbirth. The child on Ellen Kelly's hip is said to be Annie's but we know that Annie's baby by then was buried alongside her and this was Ellen's baby from an illicit affair with Bill Frost. Ned starts to take on responsibility and works hard and is well on his way to making something of himself. One day he stopped by the Imperial Hotel to have a drink with his cousin, Tom Lloyd, when in walks you-know-who. Ah, yes, the current unofficial bare-knuckle champion of the North East was in the house and due for some major payback from our young hero. They were about to mix it up right there but publican Rogers stepped in and suggested they stage a match outside (hoping to save his bar from being demolished and maybe profit from the wagers, too, no doubt). They accept and the time is set and bets are placed. This is where the book really earns it's Fight Card distinction.

Over the course of several pages we are given a quite literal blow by blow (pun intended) account of how such a fight might have ensued. Both men gave and took tremendous hits that would have felled lesser men in a short time. It was exciting and the dialogue between them and others really moved the story along. We had Lonigan there mouthing off to Ned trying to make him madder than he was to get him off his game and then Lonigan slithered over to Wild to try and bribe him to get Ned good! Of course, Wild hated the traps as much as Ned, so he rebuffed the surprised policeman, earning Ned's respect. Of course, Lonigan didn't do any of this in reality, but it makes for a bit of lively banter and fun and a show of solidarity between the two young combatants. Eventually, Ned wins the coveted title of champion (even if unofficial) from Wild and goes in the bar to have a drink, soon he is sharing one with Wild and a friendship born in blood and sweat was firmly cemented.

We are then taken back to Ned in gaol as he winds up his tale to O'Hea and the rest of the story plays out very quickly.

As stated above, I wanted more!

I highly recommend this book. The action was great and the dialogue crackled. The price for the e-book is very reasonable, too.

A bonus is that the name of Fitzpatrick does not appear at all. Thank God for small mercies!

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Review of Ian Jones's 2014 publication The Kellys and Beechworth [Sharon Hollingsworth]

Earlier this year it was announced that author Ian Jones would be launching a new Kelly book during the 2014 Beechworth Ned Kelly Weekend. A swirl of excitement and conjecture promptly ensued. Many hoped it would be the long-rumored and hoped for memoir of Jones's "pursuit" of Ned Kelly throughout much of the 20th century and into the 21st. Eventually, word filtered out that it would be a "short" book (or, rather, a booklet) on the Kellys and their Beechworth connections.
 I wondered if it would be a combined and possibly expanded version of his papers written for the “Ned Kelly: Man & Myth” symposiums in 1967 and 1993 entitled “The Kellys and Beechworth” and “The Kellys and Beechworth Revisited.”
No one who got a copy of this new publication that weekend seemed to be keen to report on what exactly was between the covers. All I read was that it was part of a series of booklets from the Burke Museum in Beechworth and that it was 62 pages long.

 I remained curious along with many other Kellyphiles. I know of more than one person who has been trying in total vain to procure a copy via mail order from the Burke Museum. Perhaps one will turn up on ebay at some point.
I was lucky enough to eventually receive a copy thanks to Brian McDonald. He has been a very kindly benefactor to me, a virtual knight in shining armour who has come to my rescue more than once! He is something of a bibliophilic godfather because when it comes to anything to do with books, Brianmac is THE go-to guy!

Ok, here we go with a report of what the booklet is all about for those who have been wondering. First up, as noted above, the title is "The Kellys and Beechworth" and it has a nicely illustrated cover and glossy pages and measures 5 and a half by 8 and a half inches in size. Also, as stated earlier, it is 62 pages long.
For those wondering, there is nothing new in it for the seasoned Kelly student/researcher/aficinado, it is more of a distillation of Jones's "Ned Kelly: A Short Life" and "The Fatal Friendship" than anything else. There is a smattering of info throughout emphasizing the Kelly connection to Beechworth, but, again, there is nothing new to me. Still, this is a good little booklet to have in hand for those visiting Beechworth who are interested in the Kellys but have not made a major and involved research endeavor prior to their journey. As usual, with anything to with Ian Jones, it is well written and presented. It is also good to obtain for those of us who are completists (Brianmac being the classic and quintessential example and one we should all strive to emulate even if only in our dreams).
The introduction gives us the background on Beechworth and the gold rush and lightly touches on the Kelly connections to be delved in to deeper within. The first chapter tells about Ned's Beechworth connections from 1868 to 1877, detailing court cases, Harry Power, the Ben Gould adventure, the Wild Wright stolen horse debacle, Constable Hall's attempted murder of Ned, Ned's imprisonment, his honest years, the fight with Wild Wright, as well as trouble with the squatter Whitty. That was a lot to cover in 9 pages. Chapter two is all about Joe and Aaron and their backgrounds, their friendship, the Chinese connection, imprisonment and the falling in with Ned in the wholesale and retail horse business.

Chapter three features Constable Fitzpatrick and his foolishness and how it started the whole outbreak. Chapter four very quickly gives us info on the Stringybark Creek episode and start of the gang. Chapter Five details the "Charge of Sebastopol" wherein the police raid the Sherritt household and Aaron is recruited as a spy. 
Chapter six touches on the Euroa and Jerilderie robberies, the arrest of the sympathisers, and letters written by Ned. Chapter seven touches on Aaron and the cave parties. Chapter eight covers July 1879 to June 1880 with Joe visiting Aaron and trying to recruit him and then Aaron and his brother Jack having various and sundry escapades and then Aaron getting married.Chapter nine covers June 1880 with the killing of Aaron, the siege of Glenrowan and Kelly's last stand, this covers 8 pages.
 Chapter ten starts with Ned Kelly in the dock of the Beechworth court house and briefly touches on the Melbourne trial and execution. The chapter ends with a few paragraphs summing everything up about the Kellys and Beechworth with the final paragraph being a really evocative look at how the feel of Beechworth now is the same as when the Kellys roamed there back in the 19th century. 
 There are 28 photographs and illustrations in the pages, too, but, again, there are none that are new to me.
All in all, get it if you can, but it is not an absolute must, especially given how difficult it will be for those not traveling to Beechworth to obtain or who are not as well connected as I am.

Oh, yeah, before I close,  you know me, I had to find at least one error, and there was one on the back cover. They have an attribution of the cover illustration of the Kelly gang (which is taken from The Eagle Book of Amazing Stories 1974) as being by Fortunino Matanja. The correct spelling of this wonderful artist's name is actually Fortunino Matania. Google him for some splendid illustrations, particularly his wartime ones.

A very nice review of the Eleven Mile Creek blog

The Eleven Mile Creek Blog has received a very nice review from Dee over at her new blog at

For the record, I am not personally acquainted with Dee at all and I did not even know she had a blog, I only found out when Brian alerted me to the review. I used to read one of her former forums, but had never contributed there.

I would like to profusely thank her for her kind words of appreciation for all that Brian Stevenson and I have done with this blog. Both Brian and I have not been very active this past year due to several reasons, not the least of which is that we both have had family tragedies occur, so you can imagine that regular posting on a blog would be the least of our concerns.

I do have a couple of reviews coming up, though, so stay tuned and I am still considering bringing some of my old articles from the now defunct glenrowan1880 website back to life. I just need to get motivated.

To answer one of the things in the review, no, Brian and I have not met in person, though we have been very good friends since 2005 after having met on a Kelly forum. He has traveled to the USA  since then to visit family but that was a few thousands of miles from here. Perhaps one day we will get to meet up! Never say never!

The direct link to the review can be found at:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Fine Art and Pleasure of Collecting Kelly Books (by guest blogger Brian McDonald)

Note from Sharon: I recently asked Brian McDonald if he would like to do a guest posting here at Eleven Mile Creek and he readily agreed. Of course, the subject he chose is one near and dear to his heart (as well as mine) which is collecting books (in this particular case about Ned and the Kelly Gang). Brianmac has well earned the sobriquets of "Book-Keeper" and "Keeper of the Flame" due to his expansive bushranging and Colonial history personal library collection. Anyone who wants further information on available Kelly books should consult the marvelous book which Brian penned/compiled called  "What They Said About Ned: Looking at the Legend of Ned Kelly through Books including An Annotated Bibliography of The Kelly Gang Comprising a comprehensive list of books, magazines, articles and journals on Ned for the use of librarians, researchers, and collectors." Whew! That was a mouthful! Behind the scenes in emails all of us just refer  to it as "WTSAN." (and, yes, I do put a "tick" beside each title that I have acquired, just as he refers to in the following blog post.)
You can find "WTSAN" and other reprinted works of Colonial Australian History at Brian's website

Now on to the meat of the matter.

The Fine Art and Pleasure of Collecting Kelly Books
by Brian McDonald

Have you ever tried to count the number of books that have been published about Ned Kelly?

I’m referring here to books that have been devoted to Ned and his gang. Books by people such as Ian Jones, Keith McMenomy, John McQuilton, Frank Clune, John Molony, Graham Jones, Justin Corfield, John Phillips and the list goes on and on.

Then, of course, there are the general books written about bushranging that incorporate a chapter or several chapters on Ned Kelly written by the likes of Bill Wannan, Charles White, George Boxall, Allan M Nixon and more recently by Robert Coupe, Evan McHugh, Susan West, etc., etc., etc.

What about reminisces? Those people who penned accounts of their experiences in Australia and who mentioned Ned and his exploits such as John Sadleir, Francis Hare, Charles Trevelyan, Henry Nesfield, John Singleton, Frederic Spurr and others.

But wait … there’s more.

Then there are the official publications such the Royal Commission into the Victorian Police Force and the resulting published reports, newspaper accounts, magazine articles, art books, children’s books, encyclopaedias, and so on and so forth.

In 1954, Frank Clune stated in his introduction to The Kelly Hunters that his interest in Ned was revived when he began collecting books on the history of Australia in the 1930s. He began collecting Kellyana, and stated:

…my Kelly Shelf now extends to three shelves, and I have copies, including press-cuttings and photostats, of over 1000 Kelly “items”. (Clune, 1954, p. xii)

This is born out when you read through Frank’s bibliography in The Kelly Hunters, although he does miss the 1000 mark, he lists an impressive 159 items of Kellyana. Clune’s friend, Clive Turnbull, had only listed 42 printed books in his publication Kellyana in 1943.

In 1980 John Meredith and Bill Scott’s excellent book Ned Kelly After a century of acrimony was published. I know John had a lovely collection of Kellyana, I’m fairly sure that Bill collected Kellyana too, and consequently the resulting list of Kelly items and souvenirs in the appendix is extremely comprehensive.

If you happen have either of these two books on your shelf, the chances are that the bibliographical entries may have little ticks beside some items. If they were in the book when you purchased it, then it came from a collection of Kellyana as the previous owner would tick each tome in their personal collection.

If, however, the ticks are yours … then it’s too late … you are a bibliophile! The collecting bug has hit you too!

I still remember the feelings of euphoria as my small collection of bushranging books finally reached the end of the first shelf. As each new edition was added to the shelf I would search for it in Clune’s bibliography and put that satisfying little pencil tick against it.

When I purchased John Meredith and Bill Scott’s book my stomach sank to my feet as I perused the enormous number of books that they had listed. When I had finished ticking the entries that were to be found on my shelves, the resulting un-ticked entries would have equalled the number of shots fired at Glenrowan! But now I was aware of the books that I wanted to find for my collection … and the search was on.

For many collectors the hunting down Kellyana has, in some cases, taken on the same proportion as the original 1879 hunt. As items of Kellyana come on the market they are usually snapped up with the same speed as reloading a Martini-Henri rifle … and high prices are being paid for some items too. If an original copy of George Wilson Hall’s Outlaws of the Wombat Ranges or The Book of Keli were to come on the market tomorrow, they would command in the tens of thousands of dollars if not hundreds of thousands!

One of the numerous editions of The Life and Adventures of the Kelly Outlaws, published in Adelaide by Frearson and Brother around 1881, sold at auction for $7,281 in 2004.

One of the largest private collections of Kellyana and bushranging sold at auction in 2000 and the prices realised for some of the rarer items were quite astounding. A copy of Iron Ned Kelly and his Gang had a pre-sale estimate of $80 to $120 sold for $345. A very rare Belfast, Ireland, publication entitled Adventures of the Kelly Gang of Bushrangers: A Thrilling Story of Australian Police Duty and Bush Life had an estimate of $200 to $400 ended up selling for $1,150.

The cream of this private collection was the hand written brief for the Prosecution in The Queen v. Edward Kelly. There were only five briefs compiled in 1880 and this was the only one in private hands – it sold for $27,400.

If you are one of those poor (literally with some of these prices I’ve mentioned above!) souls that collect Kellyana, don’t despair. Kellyana is out there, it’s just a matter of tracking it down. A good place to start is can type in the author and title or just type “Ned Kelly” as a keyword. Book shops around the world list on this site and you should be able to find the book you’ve been looking for. They list books from the cheapest to the most expensive (that can be reversed if desired), but don’t forget postage costs if buying from overseas.

eBay is another source for buying Kellyana … but do be careful! I’ve watched items sell for exorbitant prices, particularly if people become involved in a bidding war. Something that I have found worthwhile is checking to see if the item you are going to bid on is listed on abebooks. Knowing that you can buy a copy if you don’t win the eBay item definitely takes the disappointment out of losing. Keep searching and good luck!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Havelock Ellis, Early 'Sexologist' on Ned Kelly [Brian Stevenson]

Havelock Ellis (1859-1939), the British writer and ‘sexologist’ wrote extensively on sexual behaviour in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He lived in Australia for four years, 1875-1879, and so would have heard much of the exploits of the Kelly Gang. At 19, he was teaching school at Sparkes Creek, New South Wales. He might have been more happily at home in the 1960s and 1970s with his belief that sexual freedom could bring about a new age of happiness. He is famous for writing the first serious study of homosexuality in Britain, Sexual inversion (1897) but a previous work, The criminal (1890, but reprinted many times) contained a couple of pages on Ned Kelly which I could not find online. Perhaps the Ned bits did not appear in all editions, but here is what I found.

The extract below is from:

Havelock Ellis, The criminal . 5th edition, revised and enlarged. London, New York and Melbourne 1914, and is contained in chapter 4, Criminal Anthropology (Psychical), section on Intelligence, pp 161-163.

Ellis was not big on paragraphs, so I have inserted paragraph breaks – the last five paragraphs were contained in one. Ellis gets many of the facts wrong (Fitzpatrick gets it in the noggin with a frying pan instead of a coal shovel!), but seems to have a high opinion of some aspects of Ned’s character.

Ellis writes:

'A more recent example of a criminal who exhibited mental qualities of a high order and capacities of organisation, though under different conditions from those under which [Jonathan] Wild [English highwayman discussed on immediately preceding pages], is furnished by Edward Kelly, the Australian bushranger, the leader of the Kelly gang.

Ned Kelly, as he is usually called, was born in 1854, near Kilmore, in Victoria, but his ancestors came from Ireland, and on both sides the future outlaw may be said to have had outlawry in his blood. His maternal grandfather, James Quin [sic] was a notorious horse-stealer; his paternal grandfather took part in the Irish insurrection of 1798; while his father, who was transported for an agrarian outrage in Tipperary, is described as a man who possessed all the virtues of his race, but with something of the rebel in him that would not harmonise with civilisation. At an early age Kelly and his younger brother began to follow in the steps of their ancestors, but went little beyond horse-stealing until a fray [sic] occurred in which a constable was wounded. This incident is still obscure; it is said the constable made improper advances to Kelly's sister, but in any case Kelly was intensely exasperated, especially as his mother, to whom he was devotedly attached, was sentenced to a long term of imprisonment for wielding a frying-pan in the fray. Thenceforth the Kellys took to the bush.

The Kelly Country, as it is sometimes called, covers about 1600 square miles in the north-east of Victoria, a wild and picturesque region of forest and valley and mountain. All over this district, and beyond it, the outlaws had friends and sympathisers; an army of police, detectives, spies, and blacks were on their track, but they were always warned in time, although a price of 8000 pounds was set on the heads of the four chief outlaws. When an encounter occurred it was the police who left their dead on the field, and on one occasion, indeed, the police preferred to hide under the beds of their hotel rather than fight. Kelly's men were mostly of ferocious character, but he had them under perfect control; while his sister Kate was ready to leap into her saddle by day or by night to carry messages or food, or to test the trustworthiness of waverers. The outlaws wore iron caps and breastplates fashioned from ploughshares, which withstood the best modern rifles. Kelly himself is described as a fine and noble-looking man, tall and well-proportioned, with a flowing brown beard.

He never permitted any unnecessary violence, was always ready to respond to an appeal to sentiment, and showed the greatest consideration for women and children. His chief exploits consisted in 'sticking up' banks. The raid on the Euroa bank is a wonderful example of his generalship and of that fine economy of means in attaining a startling success that stamps the master-mind. It was necessary to obtain a base for the operation; coming down with his three men to a squatter's station near the town, he quietly explained what he wanted, obtained refreshment, and even kept his victims in good humour. In a few hours all hands on the station, including several gentlemen who were armed, were left locked up in the store-room, within a few yards of the railroad, in charge of one of the band.

On the same afternoon, in broad daylight, the outlaws drove up in two carts to the bank in the centre of the town. A revolver was held at the head of the manager, Mr Scott, and before he had time to seize his own from the table before him, all the gold and notes were secured to the amount of nearly 3000 pounds, and Kelly was soon on terms of the 'utmost good feeling and affability' with Mrs Scott. Then he harnessed the manager's buggy, and the whole household was invited to depart, Mrs Scott driving the buggy. The raid was arranged for bank-closing time, and the townspeople supposed that the Scotts were starting on a pleasure trip. The bank party were [sic] left at the squatter's station with the others, now over forty in number; Kelly gave strict orders that no one was to leave the house for three hours after the departure of the gang, and so great was his moral authority that none disobeyed him.

An end came at last to the impunity of the outlaws, and they were surrounded by overwhelming numbers. Even then Kelly himself escaped, but returned to give himself up, seeing that his men were doomed; when the police in the early dawn saw the tall figure, on which their shots produced no effect, we are told that some thought they had seen a ghost and were overcome with terror. Kelly was executed; the other outlaws had committed suicide. There are curious points of resemblance in Kelly's story to the doubtless legendary story of the famous old English criminal, Robin Hood, though, while the latter has been idealised by the ballad-makers, Kelly's exploits have been vulgarised by the reporter and the policeman. Yet both are episodes in an imperfectly evolved society, in which much of the virtue and more of the skill are on the side of the rebels.'

Ellis concludes:

(In the above account of Kelly I have largely quoted from an article of my own (mainly founded on H A White's Tales of crime in Australia) in the Saturday review.)

I have looked for Ellis’s Saturday review article online, but have had no joy yet, not even the date. If anyone has it, could they let me know via my email?

Brian Stevenson

Sunday, April 20, 2014

My review of Monty Wedd's NED KELLY comics in book form [Sharon Hollingsworth]

Sometimes wishes do come true! For the better part of a decade I have been very keen for Monty Wedd's Ned Kelly newspaper comics series (which originally ran in Sydney's Sunday Mirror and was syndicated in other Australian newspapers between 1974 and 1977 for a total of 146 "episodes") to once again see the light of day. On forums and blogs I have, again and again, lobbied and wished for it. What I had put on one of the earliest blog posts here at Eleven Mile Creek back in 2010 was this:

At the top of my wish list/(book) bucket list  is what has not been published in book form - Number 770 in WTSAN - Monty Wedd's "Ned Kelly" comic hundred and forty six episodes of about sugar plums! Hopefully one day someone will finally gather and publish these comics for the enjoyment and edification of all of us. 

Then, in January of 2013 I was alerted to the fact that a gentleman named Nat Karmichael had been in negotiations with Monty Wedd (and later the Wedd family after Monty passed away in 2012) to publish the series in book form.
There were many twists and turns in bringing his vision to fruition, but FINALLY this magnificent volume has been made available for sale to the general public. This book is HUGE in scope and dimension. (One website has the size as 250mm x 350 mm. As you can see from the photos in American measurements it is nearly 10 inches high by 29 inches wide from edge to edge.) I want to give a big thank you to Brian McDonald (who wrote the foreword for the book actually got to meet Monty while they were both guests on a tv program)  who kindly and generously gifted me with a copy. Brian sure was right when he said of Monty Wedd in his foreword: "His presentation of Ned Kelly's life is enthralling and you can see Monty's ardour for our history in every panel."

 After Brian McDonald's terrific foreword there is a page by Justin Wedd entitled "My Father, Monty Wedd" in which he gives the reader a little background into his father's very illustrious life.
Next in the book comes an introduction written by Roger Fletcher (creator of Torkan and Staria comic strips) in which he talks about Monty's style of illustration and his friendship with him.
Next we have a page with the background history of the Ned Kelly comic strip that is very enlightening and whets our appetite.
THEN we get to the meat of the matter...the comics themselves!
Each week's comic strip has its own page and the panels, which I can imagine were a bit smaller in the original newspaper run, are really big and easy to read. Sometimes looking at the comics in my local paper I have to use a magnifying glass to read the text, but not here. It is large and crystal clear. The best part of these illustrations is how you can actually see the emotions being conveyed on every character's face. Monty did an amazing job. I can imagine that these weekly comics would have kept the punters on the edge of their seats anxiously awaiting the next installment as he ended every strip on somewhat of a nail-biting cliffhanger. You are left wondering how Ned and the boys are going to get out of the latest pickle or problem. The modern reader need only look to the right or turn the page to find out without having to wait! Those of us who have studied the Kelly story for many years generally know the outcome of the cliffhanger but for those who are new to the story (and this book should make for some renewed interest in Ned Kelly particularly among the young) will be tantalized.
All major aspects of the Kelly story are covered with barely any mistakes in fact. I found a few things, but those did not detract from the enjoyment of the story (such as what Red Kelly died from, George Metcalfe's wounding, also the strip has how Ned brought back money from his time with Power which clearly was not the case as all he brought back was an empty belly, a lot of dirt and a bad habit.) Also, a small handful of other things, one of which I bet that has Francis Hare turning over in his grave as he was not mentioned at all in the capture of Harry Power but instead Nicolson gets the full faith and credit. Again, none of this detracts from the enjoyment of this unparalleled series.

The comics surely entertain and educate and live up to Brian McDonald's assessment. In these panels there were sad moments, glad moments, worry, angst, heartbreak....the full gamut of emotions are run in these 146 episodes. I am still chuckling over the panel where Steve Hart, disguised as a woman, has to nervously ride past some police troopers. One of the troopers says aloud: "There's a pretty one." Steve Hart's thought bubble says "To think that I've been fancied by a trap." Good stuff! And fun!
At the end (and I did not want it to end!) there is a page with a Tribute to Monty Wedd which is a speech by Craig Baumann, MP, Member for Port Stephens, given to the NSW Parliament shortly after Monty's death in 2012.  He gives a glowing speech and there is some good detail in that about Monty's private military museum which sounds like a wonderful place to visit.
I am hoping that everyone can get a copy of this long-awaited book. I am wondering if the publishers are maybe planning on more of a budget version for those who might not be able to comfortably afford this deluxe hardback because this book should be on the book shelf of every Kelly fan in the land. This is a volume to treasure!
I have also seen this on offer from the Angus and Robertson bookseller website and at ebay.

To see what others are saying about it see the discussion at the Ned Kelly forum (to which Nat Karmichael also contributed) -

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ned Kelly as zombie hunter! My review of Timothy Bowden's "Undead Kelly" [Sharon Hollingsworth]

Here is my review of Timothy Bowden's "Undead Kelly" which, of course, is written from the vantage point of being a Ned Kelly aficionado.

Recently while looking around Amazon's website I ran across a new Ned Kelly related novel entitled "Undead Kelly" written by Timothy Bowden which was published in October 2013. The Kindle ebook version of it was such a terrific price that I took a chance on it and, boyo, am I glad I did! I am now seriously considering doing a double dip and getting a hard copy of this book, too!

Here is the blurb from the back of the book just so you get a taste of what the book is all about before I delve in to my thoughts on it:

"Melbourne, 1880 Something evil has appeared in the Australian outback - the dead are rising, and stalking the lonely bush tracks. Officially, they do not exist, their attacks attributed to the work of natives or madmen. But one man knows they are real, and is determined to expose the truth, Ned Kelly. Dubbed ‘Undead Kelly’, Ned desires one thing - to expose those responsible for unleashing this plague and hold them to account. But Ned is imprisoned, facing trial for the murder, and is sure to hang. His plan hinges on his one ally - a Remittance Man, an English wastrel banished to the colonies by his embarrassed family. A cynical man, more at risk of being devoured by his own internal monsters than the undead. Can he find the courage to emulate Ned, rise above expectations and become the saviour of the colony? Because somebody has to stop the rot…"

Ok, now to the meat of the matter. Ned Kelly and the rest of the Kelly Gang as zombie hunters (and they really do kick some serious zombie butt) is quite an intriguing premise. Having historical figures doing battle with the undead is not entirely without precedence as recently there has been a plethora of book along those lines, such as "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" and "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter." I have never really considered myself to be a fan of this genre not having dipped into any of it but when I saw the title "Undead Kelly" and the description from above I wondered if this really would be my cup of tea? I was a bit curious how the Kellys would be portrayed and after reading the free preview sample that Amazon offers I nearly fell over myself trying to get to the checkout page! You don't have to be a zombie fan to enjoy this book. This book has so many layers and textures to it that you can actually overlook the zombies and the gory violence associated with them and just enjoy the story regardless.The characterizations in "Undead Kelly" are so well drawn and the mastery of language is exquisite! There is much mirth and wit in this book, too. I literally cannot get this book nor the character of the Remittance Man out of my head.

Just as one of the reviews at the bottom of the Amazon page said the writing does bring Arthur Conan Doyle to mind. I actually half expected Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to pop up at any moment in the proceedings! Considering the fact that the fictional Holmes would have been "born" around 1854 (nearly the same time as Ned) it would not have been entirely impossible to find him in the story. If someone has not already done a Holmes/Kelly meet up in a book or story then maybe they should. I would certainly buy it.
Who the "Remittance Man" really was in anyone's guess, but he put me to mind of another great literary character George MacDonald Fraser's Harry Flashman with all of his witty self-serving asides and conniving thought processes and haughtily belittling of those he considers below him. I do hope that Mr. Bowden will write a book detailing the Remittance Man's sojourn in London and what led to him being sent half way across the globe.This could be a whole series in itself. I would buy all those, too!
I will refer to the "Remittance Man" as RM (as he is referred to at times in the book) because I am not quite sure of his name. He tells his sour/dour landlady (whom he unsuccessfully tries to bed in an attempt to get a "sharp reduction in rent") that his name is Robert Adams. He tells Maggie Skillion (whom he does have, ahem,  "success" with) that his name is William. He tells David Gaunson (Ned's solicitor)  that his name is Charles..but when Maggie calls him William in front of Gaunson he has to cover and say his middle name is William...he  tells a hotel clerk that his name is Henry Spencer, and so on, you get the picture.

 It seems that Mr. Gaunson has hired RM as his legal secretary and sends him to the Old Melbourne Gaol to take a statement from his client Ned Kelly. When RM arrives he has quite an amusing interlude with the gaol governor Mr. Castieau. All of his dealings with Castieau were among those in the book that made me howl with laughter. I still laugh when I think about it. It is worth the price of admission alone!

Speaking of laughter, I just had to add this bit from the book as it made me literally laugh out loud:

"Before the fight could develop further or tail off, Steve came running up. The others watched him with interest – Steve was a natural horseman, who had a bowlegged gate, which, when combined with his penchant for high heel riding boots and strapped moleskins, meant he was fascinating to watch run. Like a duck on loose gravel, said Joe, but not nearly as graceful.
As I said, the author has a way with words. He really paints a picture.

Ok, back to the proceedings, and be advised that spoilers abound!

RM meets up with Ned Kelly and Ned starts to tell him about his life and how he came to be incarcerated. This book is very imaginative in that all of the Kelly events we know of now have a zombie (what the book calls "Blighters") element involved. The way each incident is explained really makes for fascinating reading. For instance, the very young Ned and Dan meet a Blighter on a bush path and the Blighter is taken out by zombie hunter Harry Power before it can attack the lads. Harry gives Ned an old gun and tells him to protect his family and that the only way to kill one of these undead is to go for a head shot. When Ned and Dan go to the body for a closer look young Dan goes shrieking home in the utmost of haste at the sight before him while Ned lingers. So begins Ned Kelly's career as a zombie hunter! Later events such as the boxing match where Ned fought "the Wild Man" who was a leather suited and masked Blighter goes into gory detail of how Ned had to defeat the creature who broke free from his restraints and nearly takes a bite out of him. Once bitten YOU then become one of THEM! When Constable Fitzpatrick goes to the Kelly homestead (the book wrongly says he was sent directly by Hare) he spies a comely lass on the way and (as is his standard operating procedure) tries to have his wicked way with her not realising she is a Blighter until it is too late. CHOMP! When he finally to the homestead and Mrs Kelly realises what has happened to him she tries to literally take his head off but Grace brings in the saw instead of the ax. After Fitzpatrick manages to escape from the homestead and gets back to the police station Superintendent Hare chains him up and locks him into a shed for future "use." (Sounds like something the dastardly Detective Ward would set in motion!).  I guess the mistakes in the historical part are not that essential to point out since it is just fiction but you know me I can't help myself so bear with me. It so happened that Whelan was the man in charge of the station when Fitzpatrick got there and not Hare. Also where it keeps referring to Nicholson it should be Nicolson.

Other events in the Kelly timeline such as the Stringybark Creek affair are covered. During that incident McIntyre is literally treed by the other coppers after they became blighted! Also during this incident the author had the Kellys in tents instead of in the fortified/reinforced hut, thus making them take turns to sit up at night watching for Blighters. I think it would have been a better storyline explaining that the Blighters were the reason why the hut was so heavily fortified.
Later, the book has all four of the gang members at Aaron's hut and it is really a sad and unexpected turn of events.

I don't want to give away too much of the book because I would like for you to discover it for yourselves but it excites me so much that it is hard to refrain from telling so much. There were funny moments like when Maggie and RM played a prank on McIntyre (making him literally crap his pants!) while they were all in Beechworth for the pre committal trial. Once again, this is just a plot device, it could not really have happened because Mac was staying at the Beechworth Gaol rather than in a hotel. Also, I am not sure if Hare was even at the trial in Beechworth like in the story. He has Hare doing lots of the "heavy" lifting in this book.

Just a few more thoughts and bits and pieces...

When Maggie and RM have a flirtation and fling RM and Tom Lloyd are at odds so much so that RM considers Tom be "the third wheel" and sticks him with the meal check and has a few other rather imaginative and descriptive thoughts and feelings as regards him. I am still wondering if Maggie would have been having a meal at the Melbourne Club with Gaunson, but we go along with it to move events along.

The gang makes the armour to withstand both bullets and Blighter bites! What happens on the police train to Glenrowan is diabolical! (As is having one of the traps mistakenly referring to Joe Byrne as "Joe Hart").

The ending lets us know what happened to Ned's missing head. Oh, dear! Oh, my! Say it ain't so, Joe!

I guess the book could be summed up as the Kelly Gang is fighting the forces of colonial injustice in a whole new and different way!
I am not sure if the gory violence that is detailed during the Blighter fight/death scenes would make this book suitable for little kids or those who are squeamish, but it sure would make for a heck of an action packed movie. Some of the things in it like the love scenes are adult themed and if you are easily offended or are prudish, then you best just pass on by...move on...nothing to see here...but if you are open to a rollicking adventure full of wickedness and witticism, a melding of history and phantasy with a little more than a wee splash of blood, then climb right aboard for the ride of your life because as RM mused "a gentleman doesn’t walk... (...except out along the heath with an over-and-under resting broken open over one arm, while one’s tenants beat the scrub for pheasants.")