since Upjohn put the noose around Ned's neck on 11th November 1880,
the Outlaw has been immortalized in song, film, statues, posters, postcards,
childrens toys and even more obscure items such as soap, aftershave and candles.
His image has been used to sell insurance, Kodak film, alcohol and many others.
Even prior to his death, he was the subject of bush ballads and @ least 4 books.
Today, over 120 years after Ned died at the Old Melbourne Gaol, the publications
continue to find a ready audience. This article will briefly examine some of the
more well known authors whose words have helped Ned and his gang come alive over
Jerome Kenneally (1870-1949) produced one of the first, more comprehensive,
historical works. His book was called “The Complete Inner History of the Kelly
Gang and their Pursuers.” First published in Melbourne in 1929, the work has
seen numerous re-prints. Whilst the book is accurate in terms of historical
data, his sympathies clearly lie with the Kellys and therefore, it cannot be
considered an objective piece of writing. Kenneally was also the first author to
use oral tradition in terms of information provided by Tom Lloyd, cousin of Ned
and considered a fifth member of the gang during the Kelly Outbreak. “He
studied @ McCristals college in Benalla and became a schoolteacher, but till the
day he died it remained his most important concern to give voice to the cause of
a people whom death had silenced.”
Jones is a writer, producer and Historian. A former journalist, his film and
television work includes the old Crawford “cop shows” such as “Homicide”
and “Matlock”, “The Sullivans” and the excellent 1980 mini-series on Ned
Kelly, “The Last Outlaw”. He is also well known in military circles and has
written books on the Australian Lighthorse as well as worked on the feature
film. One of his earliest published works were the papers he contributed to the
Kelly Symposium @ Wangaratta. Papers appear in “Ned Kelly-Man and Myth”.
(1967) In 1992, Ians masterpiece (to this writer anyway) was published. “The
Friendship that Destroyed Ned Kelly-Joe Byrne and Aaron Sherritt”. The book,
an extension of his 1967 “The Kellys and Beechworth” paper, looks at the
outbreak through the friendships of Joe, Neds lieutenant and his life long
friend from the Woolshed valley Aaron Sherritt. The almost demented vigor with
which Byrne and Sherritt operated makes for gripping reading. The book tells the
story of a supposed betrayal in a peculiar setting. It is obvious this
particular facet of the Kelly story is close to Ians heart. The book is about to
be re-issued under the less cumbersome title “The Fatal Friendship”. In
1995, Lothian published what some consider to be the ultimate Kelly book, “Ned
Kelly-A Short Life.”The book has since gone on to many re-prints. His most
recent work is providing the text for the catalogue “Ned:The Exhibition”.
“An old gardener called Tom Maine introduced me to Ned Kelly. Seated on a throne of sacks in a tool-shed, he shaved a plug of tobacco, packed a pipe with broad, dirt-grained fingers and sucked a match flame into the bowl. Then he spun magic, musty images of the fabulous outlaw among the heavy smoke skeins he puffed into a door- angle of sunlight.”
at Work”-Ian Jones
Czechoslovakian, Dagmar is based in Adelaide. Her first books were “Ellen
Kelly” published in 1984 and “Women and Bushrangers.” She says “Very
little has been documented about the women of those times and very little has
been written about them.” She has gone on to co-author several books with Gary
Dean, amongst them “Ned and the others” and “To Crack a Whip”- the story
of Neds half brother Jack King and his wife Violet. Her most recent work is an
updated version of “Women and Bushrangers” with Gary Dean.
Kelly Outbreak.1878-1880. The Geographical Dimension of Social Banditry” was
published by Melbourne University Press in 1979. The book cites Hobsbawms
description of social banditry and presents a case that Ned Kelly falls within
the guidelines. The front section of the book gives an excellent description of
the “Squatters versus Selectors” issue and how it came to shape the North
East. The state of the police force in Kellys time is also meticulously
examined. The book was re-printed in 1987 with a new preface. John comes from
Yackandandah in Kelly Country and is currently an associate Professor in the
History and Politics Programme @ the University of Wollongong, where he has been
teaching Australian History since 1991. His research interests include
Australian military history and the links between rural settlement and
lawlessness, place and identity. He has recently completed a manuscript on the
impact of the First World War on North Eastern Victoria. “Kelly Country-A
Photographic Journey” was published in late 2001. Johns text segues well with
Brendon Kelsons photographs.
1984, Currey O’Neil Ross published Keith McMenomys “Ned Kelly-The Authentic
Illustrated Story”.To some, it represents the pinnacle in Kelly publications.
Keiths interest in Ned began when he selected work on the bushranger @ Swinburne
Art School in Melbourne. He spent years collecting material and travelling Kelly
Country to photograph the locations as they exist today. During this time, he
also farmed a property @ Wallan East, near the birthplace of Ned Kelly.
Following a stint in Cambridge in the U.K, his major employment has been in the
Graphic Arts sphere. His book was re-issued by Hardie Grant publishers in 2001
with a new lay-out and some newly discovered photographs with a slight change in
title-“The Authentic Illustrated History.”
pictorial or visual side of the Kelly Story has never been adequately
represented, and that is where this work differs from others on the subject.”
proprietor of the Cobb and Co. museum and souvenier shop in Gladstone St.
Glenrowan also finds time to research and write about varied aspects of the
Kelly story. His many co-authored books with Dagmar Balcarek include “Ned and
the others” (1995-self published), “The Bushranger Harry Power-Tutor of Ned
Kelly”(1991-with Kevin Passey) and the excellent “To Crack a Whip”,an
account of Neds half brother Jack and his days as a performer. (1990).
Interestingly, Garys basement museum in Glenrowan devotes substantial space to
this story of the performers known as Kelly and Kelly. Gary hails from Mooroopna
and grew up @ Katandra West. He held the position of Superintendent with the
City of Wangaratta gardens until he finally had the dream realized in 1984 and
opened his shop (and later the museum) in Glenrowan.
Passeys first book was “Lachlan Landmarks-Bushranger sites of mid-N.S.W.”
Published in 1986, the book is a chronicle on the lives and locations of
bushranger Ben Hall and co. This was followed up in 1988 with “In Search of
Ned-A travelogue of Kelly Country”. The book includes detailed directions to
localities of the Kelly story. Kevin completed the trilogy in 1993 when Lachlan
Publishing released “Riverina Rogues-Bushranger Sites of the Murray and
from Yallourn, Victoria, Kevins interest was sparked after a visit to the
N.S.W.town of Collector-Ben Hall Country. Today, he resides in Albury-Wodonga,
the heart of “Bushranger Country”.
author, broadcaster and cartoonist, Graham Jones was fascinated by the history
of North Eastern Victoria since he joined Radio 3NE in Wangaratta over 35 years
ago. His two books in the “People, Places and Things” series, “North
East” and “The Kelly Years” (with Judy Bassett) began their lives on
commercial radio, commissioned for the 1980 Kelly centenary. His other books
include “Bushrangers of the North East”(1991), “Discovering the North
East”(1992), “Ned Kelly-The Larrikin Years”(1990) and “There was a
Time”, a history of the Wangaratta shire. With Judy Bassett of Benalla, he
wrote the framing pages for “The Book of Keli” by G.W.Hall. One of his last
works was an attempt @ a romantic novel entitled “Kelly and Ned.” Graham has
only recently passed away.
well known as a folk musician and record producer, Graham Seal wrote “Ned
Kelly in Popular Tradition” in, appropriately, the Kelly centenary year-1980.
He examines the popular tradition through songs written during and after the
gangs career and through media productions. The reader sees the image of Ned
becoming a “defining national legend”.1996 saw publication of
“The Outlaw Legend” by Cambridge University Press. The book deals
with British Highwaymen, American Outlaws and Australian Bushrangers, especially
Ned Kelly in terms of their place in mythology and our culture. He has been the
director of Australian Studies @ Curtin University(W.A.)
“This book makes a major contribution to Kelly literature by showing that, in a sense, the facts are unimportant. Australians of several generations have needed to believe in Ned Kelly; and we have tailored his legend to fit our needs.”
Kelly in Popular Tradition.”
authors discussed do not have the final say on Ned by any means. The books will
keep on coming as long as there is an audience. And there has been an audience
since before 11th November 1880. Other authors to write on the
subject include Brian Carroll, Max Brown, Charles Osborne, George Farwell, John
Molony, Keith Dunstan, Frank Clune, Peter Carey(!),Nancy Keesing, Francis
Augustus Hare, John Sadleir, Frank Haddon, Alan Sharpe, Charles White, Les
Carlyon, Colin Cave, John Phillips, Brian Ridden, Douglas Stewart, G.W.Hall, Tom
Prior, Eric Lambert, Robert Drewe, Wendy Morgan, Bill Scott, John Meredith,
George Boxall. And on it goes……………..