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


Saturday, December 31, 2011

PhD Thesis on Ned Kelly and the Movies

Greg Young alerted me to this item.

There is a 288 page PhD thesis by Stephen Gaunson called Ned Kelly & the Movies 1906-2003: Representation, Social Banditry & History available online.
It is in PDF form (it took me almost an hour and a half to download it on dialup!). It was well worth it, though!
There are also quite a few interesting scene captures, photos and illustrations related to the Kelly saga included.

You can find it at:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Book Alert: GLENROWAN by Ian W.Shaw

Michael Ball alerted me about a new book to be released on April 1, 2012 called "Glenrowan" by Ian W. Shaw.

He sent me this link  that had the following blurb about the book:

"It's the story of Ned Kelly - a man who made too many mistakes in too short a time. Joe Byrne who toasted the success of the gang one moment and bled to death on the hotel floor the next. Dan Kelly and Steve Hart who preferred to die rather than surrender. Sergeant Arthur Steele, who was twice warned by his own men that they would shoot him if he kept trying to kill unarmed people. Ann Jones the struggling owner of the hotel and the railway guard Jesse Dowsett who took on Ned Kelly in a face-to-face shootout. In 'Glenrowan' the real heroes - and the real villains - take centre stage, just as they did at Glenrowan in June 1880."

 Looking forward to hearing reviews of this book from others once it is published. If I could get my hands on one over here in the USA you can rest assured I would give it a thorough going over and would report in depth on it! I seriously doubt that there would be much of anything new to me in it as I have been intensely studying the Kelly Gang for nearly a decade (of course, some aspects of the saga, like the siege, hold more interest for me than others), but I would surely like to see how it is put together and presented. I wish the author a great deal of success with it!

At the publisher's website I found an image of the proposed cover:,%20Ian%20W.

Thanks again to Michael who has helped this blog be first with lots of new info!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Recent John Molony Lecture on Ned Kelly

Michael Ball alerted me to this interesting information.

On November 26, 2011 author John Molony gave a talk at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra as part of The Convicts to Colony Lecture Series. It was called "Ned Kelly: Our Heroic Outlaw" and was described on the National Gallery's website as being about "the tangled web of reality and legend that symbolises Ned Kelly's life."

There is video footage of it at

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Was Ann Jones's Brother-In-Law at the Siege of Glenrowan? [Sharon Hollingsworth]

The National Library of Australia's "Trove" website is an aptly named one, as it is a treasure trove of information. Some of the information in those old newspapers makes you wonder how correct it is, though. For instance, there was the following blurb in the (Perth) Sunday Times on August 17, 1919:

"Four men at least in Perth are known to have seen and chatted with Ned Kelly, personally. Bohemian Actor Cole, Charlie Wilson (erst of the Sandringham and Great Western), Ex-Police Sergeant Devine, and Pa Jones of the Duke of York restaurant. -The latter's sister-in-law (Mrs. Jones) kept the hotel at Glenrowan, where Dan Kelly, Steve Hart, and Joe Byrne were shot and burned, the present landlord of the Duke being on a visit to his relatives in Glenrowan when the greatest bushranging battle in Australian history was fought."

Ok, that sounds quite intriguing! So, I did some further digging as to who "Pa Jones" was. "Pa" was the affectionate nickname given to James Alexander Jones who took over the running of Perth's The Duke of York Restaurant in 1899. The Duke of York Restaurant was also referred to as The Duke of York Hotel (as they offered rooms for rent in addition to serving meals) and even as The Duke of York Coffee Palace. The latter may have been because Mr. Jones had previously run a place in Perth called The Paris Coffee Palace (of course I am sure the Duke of York establishment also sold coffee in addition to meals and rooms.)

Is there a possibility that James Alexander Jones actually was at the siege? He died in May of 1925 at age 68, which would have made him around 23 years of age in 1880. Owen Jones (Ann Jones's husband) was 63 when he died in 1890, so he would have been 53 years old in 1880 (also note that Owen was not living at home in Glenrowan at the time due to work obligations). A thirty year age difference between brothers seems odd, unless his father remarried a younger woman later in life and started a new family as some do. Regardless, with that kind of age difference, the brothers would not have been raised together, so there would be a question as to how close they were. That is one thing that gives me pause, but anything is possible, I suppose. There is also the situation of at least three of Ann Jones's sons heading out to Western Australia for a new life in later years when they grew up. Did they go out there as they had a relative in the area they could turn to for assistance?

I guess we will never know for sure what the go was, and the newspapers in 1880 did not mention anything about James Alexander Jones being at the siege nor did Ann herself mention anything about a relative being in the Inn. Surely, if he was there he would have helped carry his fatally wounded nephew (Johnny Jones) first to the kitchen (instead, Ann and her daughter Jane did the carrying) and later out of the Inn (as Neil McHugh did), wouldn't he?

As a side note, of the other three men mentioned earlier as having known Ned Kelly, we know who Ex-Police Sgt. Devine was, but what of Bohemian Actor Cole and Charlie Wilson (erst of the Sandringham and Great Western)?

"Bohemian actor Cole" was American actor and entrepreneur Edward I. Cole (not to be confused with Edward M. Cole of Melbourne bookseller fame). Edward Irham Cole ran the Bohemian Dramatic Company and actually had produced a Kelly Gang play.

I have no further information of who Charlie Wilson was or in what capacity he knew Ned. By the way, the Sandringham and Great Western were hotels in Perth and not the name of a railroad company like I first thought!

I do wonder if all the men in Perth who knew Ned Kelly ever got together to talk about their experiences?

Going back to James Alexander Jones for a moment....from everything that I have read he was a kind, generous and helpful man.  An interesting report that bears bringing to light, comes from the (Perth) Sunday Times of May 25, 1925. It tells of a unique service that he provided at The Duke of York Restaurant:

"All who remember the old place will recall a large window abutting on the street in which were exhibited many hundreds of letters and newspapers, these having been sent to those who had either forgotten or wished to be forgotten by their friends or who had gone away in to the big spaces of the bush or had crossed the Great Divide. For years Pa Jones kept these letters in his window and now and then was rewarded by someone claiming one or two. Not until years had passed would he allow any to be opened and then only in the presence of reputable and responsible witnesses, and in many cases the letters were returned to their senders with an informative note attached."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Article Alert: Kelly Fest Needs a New Ned

from google alerts..

There is an interview over on the 3aw Radio website about how the search is on for someone to portray Ned Kelly in Beechworth.

It is called "Kelly Fest Needs a New Ned."

An excerpt:

"We need someone who likes to be the centre of attention.....You need to have a bushranger beard, you need to have a bit of an Irish accent and an understanding of the history."

For more:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wild Wright - A Sheepman's View [Brian Stevenson]

Fate is often capricious, with just a little crinkle in the fabric of history necessary for things to turn out completely different.

Take, for example, the Kelly Gang, formed almost on impulse and forged in the blood of Stringybark Creek. The membership of Ned and Dan, of course, was a fait accompli, but how easy it would have been for another local lad to become part of that select company, had they been present on that fateful afternoon.

Tom Lloyd could so easily have been a member, and indeed, was not far away when the murders occurred. Perhaps the course of events would not have been that different had steady and reliable Tom been in the Gang. But when we think of who else could so easily have been a gang member with unimaginable consequences for the story - the terminally confused Aaron Sherritt, or the unpredictably volatile Isaiah 'Wild' Wright, for example.

Well, it did not happen, and we know that Isaiah Wright lived well into the twentieth century and only spent the last decade or so of his life out of trouble.

Recently, at the suggestion of my wonderful co-blogger Sharon (I never lose a chance to tell her how great she is) I looked at the memoirs of one Hugh Malcolm (Mat) Eastman, Memoirs of a Sheepman, that seems to have been privately published in Deniliquin, New South Wales in 1953. I happened to be at the State Library of New South Wales, which, I must say, had extremely helpful staff, something us librarians notice about each other when we are incognito in other libraries.

Eastman also left behind an unpublished manuscript, but the section dealing with Wild seems to be pretty much verbatim what was published later on in his printed book, so if you are at the SLNSW, don't worry about the manuscript for this. And you have to read it on microfilm - yuck. I can't say that he is great on the details either - there is a garbled account of the incident at Jerilderie where Steve Hart abstracted the watch of the worthy Reverend John B Gribble and Ned made him give it back. The Eastman account has the watch taken from someone called Robert Gardiner, 'a jovial Scotsman with a store in Jerilderie' by Dan Kelly. Not sure if there was anyone called Robert Gardiner at Jerilderie, but of such is the stuff of legend made.

Eastman met Wild Wright in 1891 during one of the shearing strikes. He found himself in charge of the shed at Hartwood with one hundred thousand sheep to shear and only ten men to do the work. Eastman managed to hire a few additional hands, and one day 'a tall well-set up horseman on a fine type of horse' arrived. Eastman thought that he was either a policeman in civilian clothes or an Australian Workers' Union organiser. But the new arrival asked 'Any chance of a pen, boss?' meaning that he wanted a job.

Eastman, still cautious, said that he might have a pen or two of sheep left to shear (he actually had 24.) There then ensued a curious dialogue in what passed for a job interview:

'Shearing anywhere this year?'

'Shure, I never shore a sheep last year.'

'Where were you shearing last year? You say you are a shearer.'

'Shure, I never shore a sheep last year.'

'What have you been doing in your spare time?'

'I've been doing a lot of jail, I'm just after doing seven years for stealing a horse along with Jim Kelly.' Wild now provided some helpful advice. 'If you are ever short of a horse, shake it on your own, don't go with another man or you are sure to be lagged.'

'What is your name anyhow?'

'You know my name right enough.'

'No, you are a stranger to me.'

'Well, I'm not woild at art, but they call me Woild Wright.'

'The devil you are. I wish I'd known that before giving you the pen.'

'Ah sure, you will not find me woild at arl.'

Wild was hired, and according to Eastman, was 'one of the best blade men' he had ever seen. But he was still capable of 'woild' exploits.

During a meal break, Wild caught his horse, vaulted on to its back without the saddle or bridle and sent it full gallop to the dining room. When he got to the doorway, he vaulted over the horse's head and landed on his feet inside the dining room 'giving a yell audible at the sheepyards.' Wild then strolled casually to his seat at the dining table.

When signing for his pay, his boss remarked on his given name. 'Isaiah. Well, Wright, your mother gave you a good kick off in selecting a name for you.'

Wild's reply was sad. 'The divil a bit of good it's been to me anyhow.'

On the weekends, Wild lived up to his nickname. Whenever he returned from the pub on Sunday evenings, 'he had his mates scared stiff as he raved.'

Eventually Wild and Eastman came to the parting of the ways. 'Never mind', this difficult character in the Kelly drama replied: 'I will go to Conargo [a small town in the Riverina district of New South Wales] and any of the shearers pulling in after the cut out, I'll rob of their cheques.' Apparently he was as good as his word, and helped the 'robbed' liquidate their cheques, presumably with liquid refreshments!

Wild Wright's death was not documented by any government official, but from the work of Deborah Bird Rose and others, it seems likely that he died while working on a station in the Northern Territory in 1911. Eastman tells a different tale: 'Years afterwards, in the back country, a derelict, all broken up, he was buried by the police on the roadside where he fell - the end of a queer misfit.'

Friday, December 2, 2011

ALERT: The Francis Hare Papers at the University of Melbourne are now available online!

Both Brian and I have waited for this day for a very long time! The Francis Hare papers at the University of Melbourne are now available to read online! (Remember, you heard it here first!)

First we just had the new find of a letter that Superintendent Francis Hare wrote regarding the siege, then, while searching for more info on that I stumbled over where the University had  finally added in those long-awaited transcriptions.

I am finding what Capt. Standish wrote to Hare to be quite gossipy and of great interest!

I can't do a direct link as the pdf would not open for me (your mileage may vary, though.) How to find it is to go to google and type in

"Municipal Office Maryborough" "Francis Hare Papers"

That should take you to only one entry if you properly used the quotation marks...if you can click on it and have it open, there you are..if it does not open, do as I did and click on "quick view" and it will load as a google document.

Article Alert: Family Album Reveals Kelly Letter

from google alerts..

There is a new article entitled "Family Album Reveals Kelly Letter"  in which it tells about a long lost letter written by Superintendent Francis Hare regarding Ned Kelly, the Kelly Gang, and the siege of Glenrowan.

The article begins with:

An undiscovered letter about the Kelly Gang's Glenrowan siege has been found in an Adelaide family album.
The 1880 letter is expected to reap the rewards of a resurgence in interest in Ned Kelly this year, and fetch between $10,000 and $20,000 at auction next Sunday.
Adelaide rare books dealer Michael Treloar was assessing Merilyn Pedrick's family's autograph collections when he discovered the letter.
"I saw the letterhead and I knew of Rupertswood, Sunbury, because my wife is from near there," Mr Treloar said.
"That caught my attention but it was only after I read the second page of the letter that I realised its significance. It hasn't seen the light of day since 1880 until I discovered it two months ago. It had always been in the album."
Back in 1880, three weeks after the Glenrowan shootout, Superintendent Francis Augustus Hare, below, who was a key player in the siege, wrote the letter to Mrs Smith, the great-grandmother of its present owner.....

to read more: