One of the first novels written in Australia was For the Term of His Natural Life (1870-1872) by Marcus Clarke (1846-1881), published in the Australian Journal between 1870 and 1872 under the title of His Natural Life. As a novel it appeared in 1874.
It is the story of life in
for the first convicts (= prigionieri) deported there. The protagonist is Rufus Dawes, a young man transported (= deportato) for a murder that he did not commit. Australia
The story starts with a prologue: a young British aristocrat, Richard Devine, son of the rich Sir Richard Devine discovers that Richard is not his real son. Richerd is the son of Lord Bellasis. Sir Richard sends Richard away and disinherits (= disereda) him. While Richard is leaving he witness (= è testimone) the murder of his real father and sees Sir Richard walking away from the scene of the crime. The police come and arrest him who gives the name of Rufus Dawes. Moreover, Sir Richard returns home and dies. Rufus is found not guilty (= colpevole) of the murder but guilty of the robbery (= furto) of the corpse (= cadavere) and sentenced to transportation to the penal colony of
From this moment on Rufus Dawed experiences all sort of adventures and is accused of mutinies and murders. Only at the end he will be recognized innocent and honest , but too late.
The book is typical of the Victorian convict novels where the protagonist is wrongly accused – a real murderer could not be a hero. But it is also a punctual a denounce of the punishments and of the inhumane treatments inflected to convicts. Some of them were transported only for relatively minor crimes.
The sources are real: it is based on the escape of Alexander Pearce, called “Pieman”, who ate his companions during two different escape attempts from the Macquarie Harbour Penal Settlement in
and on personal visits of the author there. Tasmania