Today is the Tenth anniversary of Ned Kelly The True Story Blog. An entire decade ago, on May 19th 2014 this Blog came into existence when I nervously uploaded the first post to my new Google Blogspot web page, then called“Ned Kelly: Death of the Legend” – its title? “Good Man or Bad Man?”

The trigger for my interest in the Kelly world was the first Kelly book I ever read – Ian MacFarlanes “The Kelly Gang Unmasked” which I saw on an airport bookstand in late 2012, the surname being the first thing that attracted me to it, being the same as my own. This new book was a devastating and detailed critique of the view that was widely accepted back then, that Kelly was a ‘police made’ criminal whose life was admirable and heroic, and who deserved the status of icon because he stood up for his family, fought back against the authorities, and attempted to overthrow the regional government and declare the North east a Republic.



After reading and being impressed by Ian MacFarlanes book, I found an on-line Kelly Forum where a discussion about the book had just begun. I was still to learn the painful lesson that on-line Kelly Forums and Facebook pages that say they’re interested in the whole story are really only interested in one version of it, and they are without exception inflexibly intolerant of anyone who has a different view. I joined to support a woman called Carla, and a chap called Bill who were under fire for having read the book and urging everyone on the Forum to read it with an open mind. Pretty soon I was under fire as well. I was accused repeatedly of being a liar when I denied being related in any way to the Author, Ian MacFarlane. I defended myself against all kinds of absurd abuse, but after two or three weeks I was expelled. Carla and Bill, and a woman called Sharon who stood by me on that Forum have been my good friends ever since. The bully who led the charge against me, and against Ian MacFarlanes book is still stuck back in 2012 and is still attacking me and the Book on Facebook. But ten years later, its me and Carla and Bill and Sharon who got the last laugh and are celebrating!  

Eighteen months after my expulsion  I was nervous when I posted “Good man or bad man?” to begin this Blog because it was my fourth attempt to set up an online forum where the discussions I had been excluded from could be continued for people who were interested in the Kelly Outbreak but weren’t Kelly apologists. Three earlier attempts using the ProBoards platform had been sabotaged by a fanatical Kelly sympathiser who subsequently boasted about his success in having them taken down, and in silencing conversations about things he and his mates didn’t want people talking about. Up until I came along these bullies had the online space all to themselves, and they greatly resented the powerful challenge that my intrusion into it represented. I’ve observed over the years since, that lots of people have challenged the Kelly fans in various ways and in various places, but almost all of them give up after a short time, because they get worn down by the vicious personal abuse, the deep ignorance and the bad-faith manner in which the vast majority of Kelly admirers engage in debates. I am sure those bullies expected that after attacking me and calling me a liar, and kicking me off their Forum I also would disappear from the scene but I decided early on that I wasn’t going to go away, that my voice was going to be heard and I would not be hounded into silence by these bullies.


As it turned out I needn’t have been so nervous, because the whining and complaining that had sabotaged my Proboards sites didn’t work with Google. After a few failed attempts the trolls gave up trying to get my Blog removed, and instead turned their attention to posting anonymous abusive comments on it, abuse, vilification and personal attacks that finally forced me to become a Moderator, and screen all comments before they went up. I was learning on the job.

I was also still learning about the Kelly story, having read my first ever ‘Kelly’ book only eighteen months before, but by scouring local second-hand bookshops and online book sellers, and internet pages and videos, and after a couple pf visits to ‘Kelly country’ I was rapidly building up my personal collection of Kelly literature, and my understanding of the story. That first Post was short, and not very deep – it received ONE comment, and quite a few of the subsequent posts in 2014 and 2015 had low numbers of readers and no comments. But as my interest and understanding developed, and I kept writing and posting, the numbers of visitors slowly built up and people started to take notice of it. Blog comments started to become discussions that further added to everyone’s understanding, Kelly sympathiser Forum and Facebook pages started to talk about the effect it was having on the Kelly world in general – and how they could silence me – and the Blog started to appear on Google searches, giving it even wider visibility. This led to it being noticed by academic historian Dr Stuart Dawson whose brilliant research into several important aspects of the Outbreak I was more than happy to support. The Blog was also noticed by authors Grantlee Kieza and David Dufty who mentioned it in the references to their important Kelly books, and which themselves incorporated many of the recent insights of MacFarlane and of Dawson that were promoted on the Blog, and which they may well have missed if the Blog hadn’t existed.


The Kelly fanatics will never accept it, but I maintain that the dramatic changes that have swept across the landscape of the Kelly narrative in the last decade wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for this Blog. The biggest change has been the dumping of Ian Jones proud centrepiece, the lynchpin of his entire Kelly narrative, the claim that rescued Ned Kellys image from the dark pavilions of criminality and murder and reimagined him as an Aussie hero, the fiction of the Kelly Republic of NE Victoria.  The collapse of the Republic narrative was entirely due to the brilliance of Dr Stuart Dawson…but his interest in doing the research was spurred by this Blog, and  without the publicity provided by this Blog, Dawson’s brilliant work on the Republic may well have languished in an obscure corner of academia. Likewise his exposures of the pernicious lies about Constable Fitzpatrick, the misdirection about who was responsible for Metcalfs eye injury and untimely death, his reconstruction of the timeline of the siege that showed the Last Stand lasted ten minutes at most – all this and the many more insights of the other clever people who supported this Blog would probably have never  seen the light of day without this Blog.

More recently the story of Kelly being rewarded with a green and gold sash for saving Dick Shelton from drowning has been revealed to be myth, and examination of the belief that Ned Kelly was a boxing champion has also been debunked. An insight of my own that developed over several Blog posts, solved a 140-year-old puzzle about the multiple bullet wounds in the body of murdered policeman Thomas Lonigan. The prevailing view was Ian Jones claim that Lonigan’s corpse was randomly hit by bullets fired during the gunfight between the Gang and the returning Kennedy and Scanlan. My theory was tested and proved in the History Channel documentary ‘Lawless’ when a quartered bullet was fired into a carcase. I had written to the documentary makers about my theory when I heard they were going to film a re-enactment of the Police murders – they didn’t acknowledge my letter but as little as 5 years earlier, the solution that I wrote about hadn’t been discussed by anyone, anywhere. I proved Jones wrong and showed that Kelly lied about being forced to shoot Lonigan in self-defence. 

Along the way many other lesser myths have been put to rest : the ‘body straps’ myth has been debunked, the dreadful Kelly clan criminality that included domestic violence, indecent exposure, sexual assault and animal cruelty that was never addressed by the Kelly apologists has been exposed, the Kelly apologist denial of the planned shocking brutality of the mass murder of police at Glenrowan has been called out, the self-defence argument has been defeated, the claims that McIntyre was a perjurer has been refuted, the debates about where the police camped at SBC  have been clarified, books and movies and Kelly Museums and exhibitions and presentations have been reviewed. There are many more…too many to list….but still more remain to be dealt with.

Meanwhile, the Kelly apologists  only have Facebook pages, all of which are backward looking, all of which feature recitations of debunked mythology and denials of the enormous changes that have taken place in the last decade, all of which continue to exclude contrary voices, and many of which still foster hatred of police and bullying and vilification of voices like my own. They are preoccupied with Kelly admiration, Kelly tattoos and man caves, photos new and old of Kelly country sites, Kelly t-shirts, stubby holders, letterboxes and replica helmets. There is nothing new on them, only regurgitations of the old lies about police about the Kellys and about the now rejected Jones myths…oh and of course they continue to attack and vilify me, Ian MacFarlane and his book, and any other Kelly writer, Blog poster or Facebook commenter who has challenged them. Their Forums collapsed, and the Iron Outlaw page has been silent for years. A man who called himself a “Neducator” and gave misleading talks to schoolkids hasn’t been seen or heard of for years, Kelly Country Tours disappeared years ago, and several Online Forums slowly faded out of sight. The famous and once very popular annual Ned Kelly weekend at Beechworth disappeared in 2016 and hasn’t returned despite claims it would , the Kelly Vault opened and after a few years closed and hasn’t returned despite claims it would , the Glenrowan Siege weekend has collapsed from a gathering of hundreds at a formal dinner with speeches from prominent Kelly celebrities to a ragtag gathering of a few dozen die-hards in a pub, and all the recent Kelly related publications have been aligned with my view of the outbreak not Jones. A couple of Kelly promotions that opened recently were set in motion with government money six or seven years ago, and reflect what was happening back then when the Kelly demythologising process was still gathering steam, but even so, they clearly reflect much of the new view of the Outbreak that MacFarlane outlined and which the Blog has promoted. Importantly, an enormous change thats very apparent is that all references to a Kelly Republic have been dumped. I have a feeling those projects might not get off the ground if they were attempted in 2024: recently Kelly apologists themselves have noticed how Beechworth has realigned its marketing strategy away from its links to the Kelly story.


I wouldn’t have predicted in 2014 that ten years later I would still be going, and would have written almost three quarters of a million words in more than 400 Posts for the Blog. Neither would I have predicted that the Blog would be the catalyst for as much change as there has been in the Kelly world…but it has, thanks to the terrific support its received by the many decent people who have made it a success by contributing their thoughts and ideas, and their time. I’ve greatly appreciated all the help and support, and hope it will continue for a few more years yet, as there are still many more myths and interesting mysteries that we can enjoy the challenge of unravelling. George King would be a good one to tackle….

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  1. Christopher Smith says: Reply

    Your blogs tenacious commitment to factual accuracy has been pivotal in this demythologizing process. No longer can Kelly apologists peddle fanciful tales unchallenged. From disproving self-defense claims to uncovering the Kelly gang’s violence, this space holds Kelly lore accountable to the historical record.

    As Kelly fandom pages stagnate, rehashing old myths, your blogs remain vibrant and forward-looking, still uncovering new truths about the Kelly outbreak after 10 years. It is a testament to the power of perseverance over bullying and myth-making. Here’s to many more years of insightful Kelly scholarship and honest dialogue.
    Thanks again

  2. Hi David, I still have the old blog URL in Outlook from before the new WordPress blog took over; so here to celebrate your 10th anniversary is a screenshot done just now from the old blog of that very first post – congratulations!

    I discovered your blog probably a year or so after you started it, and it has been enormously entertaining seeing the huge range of topics that have been covered, and the impact it and the content and comments by various people has had on busting a whole bunch of Kelly myths. The story and the historical record have got much truer and more accurate as a result.

    People can see in the screenshot that the old blog achieved 487,301 page views before it restarted here on WordPress. I reckon that’s pretty impressive for a history discussion blog by any account.


  3. Thanks so much Stuart, your work has been the most important of all the revelations and exposures that have been made on this Blog and it has been my privilege to publish them all and draw peoples attention to them. I took a liberty in this Post in suggesting your work “may well have languished in an obscure corner of academia” if this outlet hadnt existed for them. Do you agree? I didnt mean to be insulting.

    Many people – including Ian MacFarlane himself – have asked me ‘when are you going to write a book?’ and I did contemplate it on occasion but I feel keeping the Blog going has been a better project in many ways than writing a book because it is a dynamic and responsive site that everyone can view for free, and all of us learn from the detailed conversations that often, but not always follow the post itself and bring new perspectives and new knowledge into the story. That kind of thing doesnt happen with a book.

    I note in your screen shot the date is listed as May 20th, so already I stand corrected. I jumped the gun!! The anniversary is tomorrow.

    1. Hi David, you are 100% correct; without the blog my articles would indeed have languished in an obscure corner of academia as you can count on one hand the number of academics that have done anything weighty on Kelly. I don’t include myself as a Kelly academic by the way; just someone who has had some critical historical training and later applied it to Kelly. Kelly academics include McQuilton, McMenomy, Graham Seal, Lyn Innes, and a few others. Then we have Ian MacFarlane with his massively detailed critique unmasking the Kelly gang in 2012 which was the dynamite that launched critical Kelly studies for many people including me. Anyone who hasn’t read it really has no business writing about Kelly since 2012.

      But I wouldn’t say my articles are the most important things that have been put up here, although it’s nice to know they have got a much wider audience form being here. If I had to pick three most important posters here they would be you, of course, for jump starting a big bunch of topics often for the first time, like looking into a range of issues in Kelly’s childhood and upbringing, the woodcutters photo, the huge range of myths and made up rubbish written and posted about Kelly. Then of course Sharon whose attention to detail is unrivalled no matter what side of the story is being discussed. And of course Bill who has commented on many topics over time but has really made his mark on Stringybark Creek.

      And many others have made significant contributions to discussion including Thomas’s recent long article on the Boxer Ned photo, and comments on a lot of other topics. There are more too but all I want to highlight is this is the only place on the internet where anyone can take and argue any position on Kelly and get a hearing if they keep it reasonably respectful.

      For me the most important thing about the blog has been being able to road test thoughts and ideas about a topic regardless if I’m wrong, and get feedback to fix them. That happened with my Metcalf article about Kelly shooting Metcalf in the face at Glenrowan that proved Jones wrong; and the Glenrowan shootout timeline in the back of my Republic Myth book.

      The search function is a great help for being able to find info and comment on past topics too.

  4. Anonymous says: Reply

    Thank you for that very enlightening blog post
    I am currently finalising my book “From Sligo to Stringybark” which looks at the life stories of the 4 policemen involved at Stringybark Creek, 3 of whom were murdered.. My book looks at the factual events and history of all the claims made relating to what occurred before, during and after the Kelly Outbreak. For instance, I look at the claim of Ned Kelly and his plan for a republic of North East Victoria. Now we here in Ireland know more than most what is required to establish such a Republic. Serious advance planning is required in order to target and take over critical infrastructure like post offices, newspaper offices, hospitals, colleges, and strategically located buildings. I found no evidence for any such planning or even a mention of any such planning. The only plan at Glenrowan was to kill as many policemen as possible by derailing a police special train and shooting dead any survivors of the crash including civilians. The plan then was to head for Benalla, blow up the police station there as well as the banks, steal as much as they could and retire to their mountain retreat. That was the plan. A plan had it succeeded would surely have put Ned and the gang in the realms of mass murderers who would today be vilified as the murdering thugs that they were. My book looks at the real heroes of Stringybark Creek, those 4 police officers who went out to arrest Ned and Dan Kelly for attempted murder of Constable Fitzpatrick and 3 of them were mercilessly shot down by Ned Kelly and his gang. Likewise the heroes at Glenrowan included Thomas Curnow and Constable Hugh Bracken I have no doubt my book will be subject to challenges and comments like those you yourself has experienced. All I ask from anyone who thinks they know another narrative to please produce the evidence so that we can all look at it and make an informed decision. My book should be ready for publication in September 2024

    1. Thanks for your comment. Its exciting to learn that you are working on yet another much needed correction to the record, a correction to the routine vilification of those three brave men who were murdered, and of the one who survived, only to be branded a coward, and to suffer as a result for the rest of his life. Theres also a movie in production called “Michael” which is about Michael Kennedy, but no release date has been set and I dont believe filming has yet started. The roll-back just keeps on rolling…

      Be sure to include in your narrative the forensic evidence that proves Kelly lied about Lonigan being behind logs with only his head showing when he was shot. His wounds included one to his left thigh which would have been well protected by the logs if he was behind them with only his head sticking up. Dr Nicholson also testified that all wounds were inflicted while Lonigan was alive, meaning they had to have all happened at once, as he was only ever shot once….and thus we can deduce that what kelly fired from his gun wasnt a single bullet but either a quartered built or a load of fragments of shot, the one extracted from his thigh reminding him of a revolver bullet. But it wasnt. No revolvers were fired at or by him.

      We will all put a note in our calendars for September this year, to remind us to look for your book. Cant wait, and thanks for the heads up!

    2. Hi, as you’re doing a book on the police at SBC you will be aware of the endless commentary led by Jones from 1967 onwards that accuses McIntyre of perjury by contradicting himself and deliberately changing his testimony so as to get Kelly convicted. This is utter nonsense. I have closely examined all of McIntyre’s statements, testimony and any other reported comments and they are not at all contradictory. What has happened is that not every statement is a full statement of events at SBC. Some statements are partial recounts of what happened; they are not malicious omissions. They only point which is unclear anywhere throughout his statements over two years (October 1878 to the trial in 1880) is how much of Lonigan’s fall he heard or saw when Lonigan was shot. That’s it. I have an article on this under consideration by a journal at present, but if they don’t take it for being too narrow a focus (being 11,000 words on one thing, McIntyre’s testimony), I might just publish it here and be done with it.

  5. Anonymous says: Reply

    Thanks Stuart
    Yes I do cover the hiding behind the log myth. Thomas Lonigan was shot almost immediately so didn’t have time to reach the log. In fact I have discovered pretty convincing evidence from GW Hall’s book in 1879 that Lonigan never upholstered his gun so the self defence myth is just that. ~ a myth. I am also not fully convinced that Dan Kelly wasn’t in some way associated with the ‘execution’ of Sergeant Kennedy. Dan appears to have been slightly unstable in some of his words and deeds. And appears to have been easily excitable

    1. Yes, Ian MacFarlane’s Kelly Gang Unmasked talks about the button down revolver holsters the mounted police had. Lonigan reached behind himself to get his revolver; he never got it. McIntyre related that Dan Kelly later said, “did you see how he reached for his revolver?, matching his gestures to the words.

    2. Michael, I think youre right : Lonigan didnt have time to even get his gun out, let alone fire it into his own thigh as some morons have claimed. The oft repeated kelly claim that there was a shootout and three police died as a result is such a misrepresentation of what actually happened it really infuriated me when I read it. Kennedy was the only one who fired back, and it was very quickly four against one whose ammo was expended win no time. As for Dan Kelly being invo.lved in Kennedys death – I personally wouldnt go there because there isnt any evidence to support it, only speculation, and then once we start saying its fine to speculate we open a huge pandora’s box about all kinds of other unreferenced and potentially wild speculation. I believe our narratives should strictly adhere to what is verifiable or at least supportable by actual evidence. We should set a standard and hold others to the same one.

      1. Anonymous says: Reply

        Thanks David. No I wasn’t going to put that in my book just looking at all the reports and statements made in relation to the incident. But no proof so not included.

  6. Michael O’Connor says: Reply

    ‘From Sligo to Stringybark’ will be dedicated to the memory of the 4 policemen involved at Stringybark Creek.

  7. Congratulations and many happy returns!

  8. Glenrowan fan says: Reply

    Big balloon party for Ned’s 10th birthday!! Morgan’s Lookout in the background. The railway bend where the gang hoped to derail the police special train is just behind the shrubbery to the right. Ann Jones’ Inn is just to the left of the picture. The shot is called “Ned Waiting”, taken in the afternoon before the seige. The building up the hill to the left is temporary housing for VicTrak workers engaged on the Wangaratta rail bypass project. Ned’s face is one of studied anger, having just shot George Metcalf in the face with a borrowed revolver. no-one is feeling sorry for him at this point, so he is feeling sorry for himself.


    1. Wonderful!

      And those stakes in the ground? … they were left behind by Adam Ford after his Siege site Dig confirmed the well marked and signposted siege site was a place where there was a siege ..and shots were fired and a building was burned down…. facts which were not something anyone knew until he discovered it with a drone.

  9. Glenrowan fan says: Reply

    There are a lot of drones in Kellyland. They will keep repeating the same old disproven nonsense for some time to come, until the senile types who control the Ned Kelly Touring Route finally realise they have become laughing stocks to cultural tourists aware of the rejection of much of the expired Jones narrative with its silly fictional Kelly Republic cornerstone and its ignorant lying false accusations of McIntyre committing perjury.

  10. Drones, laughing stocks, discrase to country, low IQ, apologists, liers, morons the list goes on and on.
    The Kelly academics would probably have convinced the world a long time ago of the myths if they didn’t insult so viciously the people they’re trying to convince.
    Keep it up though, I like the so-called myths.

    1. Who says we are trying to convince the “Drones, laughing stocks, discrase to country, low IQ, apologists, liers, morons the list goes on and on.”??

      Ive often said I am definitely NOT trying to convince these deluded Kelly admirers – they have closed minds and a blind fanatical commitment to a fairy story told by Ian Jones. They are like believers in a flat earth, alien abductions, fake moon landings and all the rest of it – conspiracy theorists who have no idea what rational argument is or how logic functions, and are immune to any rational evidence based challenge to their Kelly dogma.

      What I HAVE said is that I am pleased to expose these people who claim to be expert Kelly historians as fakes imposters and posers.My target audience is people genuinely interested in finding out what really happened. The fakes are only interested in misinforming ordinary people and recruiting them into their cult. They think that having ‘supporters’ gives thier cause Creedence but it doesnt – the Flat Earth people have many hundreds of thousands of supporters …does tat make thier absurd claims any more legitimate? No of course not! Likewise Kelly supporter numbers mean nothing

  11. Hi David, it’s interesting how many of the people who say they think Ned Kelly was some kind of champion or hero or legend, or wear Ned Kelly t-shirts, also think that The Last Outlaw miniseries done in 1980 is an approximately true portrayal of Ned Kelly’s life.

    Apart from the props and costuming that do a reasonable job of portraying the late 1870s, practically everything in the script and dialogue is not just fiction, but directly contrary to the facts of what happened in the Kelly outbreak.

    As the movie was written and directed by Jones, it is actually quite useful for understanding how coloured his perspective was in a romantically dramatised way. It shows how his narrative was strung together and why it is difficult to present information that challenges various parts of his perspective. Anyone can see how this works in the transcript of his ABC Radio debate with Alex McDermott. Whenever McDermott brings up a point based on evidence that contradicts something in Jones’s narrative, Jones says yes or no or maybe, then “but”, and steamrolls ahead with his well rehearsed narrative to swamp the objection in a sea of verbiage that essentially says this is how he sees it and it couldn’t have been otherwise regardless of “minor” issues.

    Another thing that is not obvious until you look for it is that Jones wrote a number of articles for places that produce material for school children, thereby cementing as “facts” a lot of what should be treated entirely as fiction. The most significant of these is his ‘villain versus hero’ dichotomy, which is widespread across most mentions of Kelly in school curriculum. No wonder kids are misinformed from the get-go.

    1. Anonymous says: Reply

      Stuart. it wasn’t a movie. It was a TV mini series. Ian Jones did co write the script but he did not direct any of the 4 episodes. The Directors were Kevin Dobson. (2 episodes). And George Miller (2 episodes.) This is not the George Miller of Mad Max fame. if you are continually going to criticise The Last Outlaw, at least get your details correct. Thank you.

  12. Hi Anonymous, I said miniseries in my first paragraph, then used movie to chat about it… I used to call it a video but actually have it on DVD. It’s very enjoyable to watch, especially the starting section with Gerard Kennedy as Harry Power. Quite brilliantly done, actually. But then good propaganda is often well done. If only the true story had been remotely like that! Happy little Kelly kids playing gleefully on the farm! That nasty Fitzpatrick making a play for Kate 😟 Those bad cops riding around in a pack searching fruitlessly for Harry and his teenage protege young Kelly, while they rode of laughing to Harry’s luxury humpy! “Can you make a fire without smoke, me lad?” A laugh a minute, highly recommended 😂

  13. I think you’re all forgetting the basic function of a movie (or “tv mini series “) is to entertain the audience. A movie without romance, drama and creative licence wouldn’t get bums on seats. I’d like to see a movie that doesn’t have these things (well actually I wouldn’t nor would most people).
    I wonder if there’s any Robin Hood “academics” in England. God I hope not. Booooring

    1. Ned Kelly was Australia’s Robin Hood! Ask any cretin for confirmation! You can even google it!

    2. You seem to be suggesting that the story of the Outbreak/Ned Kelly would be boring if Ian Jones hadnt spiced it up with all his myth making, his exaggerating and lies….

      Far from it….in fact the true story is MUCH more interesting than Jones pathetic attempt to whitewash this complex wild violent loud mouth of a bully and killer into a poor downtrodden mummys boy….the Kelly portrayed in the 1st part is pasty, dim-witted boring and and as weak as dishwater…so Jones decided to invent George King as a master criminal to corrupt him…

      The true story doesn’t need embellishing…its full of fornication and infidelity, drunkenness, violence, court drama, arson, horse stealing, fighting and brawling, spies and informers, and of course brutal murders, treachery and double-crossing, deranged personalities and an insane scheme for mass murder, a train hurtling to destruction, hostage taking, robbing banks and the madness of Kellys armour….

      1. Hi David, what is needed is Ned Kelly: The True Story – The Movie. That would be something else!

        1. OK Stuart, I’ll star filming…

      2. Geez David, it really gets under your skin doesn’t it?
        You just about described a season of MAFS $$$

        1. Hi East, call me silly but what does MAFS $$$ stand for?

          1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

            Married at First Sight. It’s a terrible reality TV show.

            1. Thanks Thomas, I have heard of it but never seen it. I don’t know what the dollar signs mean there either. I think we were better off in the nineteenth century BTE (before the television era).

        2. What gets under my skin? The fact that you think the true story of the outbreak needed Jones to make it interesting? That gets under my skin right beside the funny bone…

  14. Hi all, I just chanced upon an op shop copy of a historical (or hysterical) novel called ‘Sister Kate’ by Jean Bedford (Penguin Books, 1982). In the Australian Book Review Nov 1982, Frances McInherny wrote that “Sister Kate justly deserves to be one of the two bestsellers in Melbourne”,

    The back cover blurb says, “Kate Kelly grew up in a house of women: when the Kelly men were not in jail, they were outlaws.” Not the most promising start! Then it says, “Inevitably the police take brutal revenge on the Kelly Gang at Glenrowan. Kate must watch as the scorched body of her lover is strung up for public display.” From this it seems the novel is going to match up Kate Kelly with Joe Byrne. File that under ‘things that never happened’.

    A quick flick found this on p. 40: “They planned it in detail as they had obviously done before – the Republic of North Eastern Victoria”. A bilge-fest incoming… I don’t know if this book is actually readable or just vomitable yet, but I suppose I will have to have a look at some point. Has anyone else ever heard of it?

    1. Ive heard of it, not ever seen it or read it but its from the middle of the Golden Age of the Jones-Kelly Myth-as-history epoch so it will be very out of date, full of the debunked myths and lies promoted by Jones and possibly regarded as terrific by the latter day Sympathisers…

    2. Sharon Hollingsworth says: Reply

      Stuart, yes, I have heard of it and it is mentioned in Brianmac’s What they said about Ned. He merely states “Historical novel written from Ned Kelly’s sister’s point of view.” Someone offered to send me a copy many years ago and I just said thanks, but no thanks, save the postage for something more worthy!

    3. Hi Sharon and David, I think that might be right about saving the postage. Flicking through now, on p. 73 Kate has gone hippy and become a tree-hugger: “Kate stood against, leaning into, the trunk of a tall sapling. Her arms were around it, the length of her body pressed to its slender column. With her eyes closed she was kissing the smooth, creamy bark, her neck exposed, streching, her mouth wide open, drinking in the kiss so that Maggie could see her tounge moving.”

      Toungers with a tree? Ew! This is about as factual as The Last Outlaw mini-series. That’s enough for this afternoon. I’ll brave another page tomorrow.

      1. If it’s historical insight you’re after, Stuart, I recommend not wasting any more of your time reading it. It’s a novel like any other novel.
        I have an old copy that I’m hanging on to just for my collection. But most likely it’ll only agitate you.

        1. Thanks East, I’ll put it in the “maybe one day” pile. Although I have a suspiscion from some pencil underlining and notes that it might have been used as a school text at some point. That would be a shame, as, like Masson’s “The Hunt for Ned Kelly”, Carey’s “True History of the Kedlly Gang” and Greenwood’s “Ned Kelly and the Green Sash” which are definitely used as school texts, it obviously grossly misinforms about a part of Australian history. Having said that it has given me a clear understanding of what “historical fiction” means as a category. The next task is to get Jones’s “Ned Kelly: A Short Life” reclassified as historical fiction. That might take a little longer, but chapters 5, 7, 8, 13, 16 and 17, have already been shown up as mostly historical fiction.

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