Convicts: hardened criminals, petty offenders, shiftless tramps, ordinary people? Ancestors to ignore, to defend, to hide, to boast about? A shameful past, or an interesting and novel one? A history to deny or sensationalise? One that had no effect on the present, or left an indelible stain?
Tasmania’s Convicts: How Felons Built a Free Society is, as the title would suggest, a nonfiction offering, exploring the role of convicts in the settlement and development of Hobart and all of Tasmania.
With 72 000 convicts transported to Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) between 1803 and 1853, and approximately 74 percent of modern day Tasmanians descended from convicts, the contribution these often unwilling settlers made to shaping Tasmania is undeniable. Historian and author Dr Alison Alexander explores this contribution, peppering her text with anecdotes and examples of the convicts, the lives they left behind, and their new lives in the colony.
For anyone with an interest in Australian history, this is a very accessible offering.
Tasmania’s Convicts: How Felons Built a Free Society, by Alison Alexander
Allen & Unwin, 2010
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