June Slee has written a book entitled Crime, Punishment and Redemption which is based on the diary of a convict and is heading to Canberra for its launch on October 23.
Englishman, John Ward, was incarcerated on Norfolk Island from 1841-1844 after falling into a life of crime outside his employment as a groom for a military officer. He was then transferred to a prison in Tasmania where he served the remainder of his sentence.
Dr Slee, who has worked extensively in Australia including as a senior lecturer at the University of Charles Darwin, said she approached the National Library of Canberra and said she had a copy of a rare diary written by convict John Ward.
“There aren’t a lot of convict diaries and in fact it’s the only one I know of written on Norfolk Island,” Dr Slee said.
“It’s really incredible.
“Only a few people have read his diary and I think he was not a very nice person.
“He was a predator of women, a bit crazy, and an alcoholic.
“He was a complex and complicated character.
“I have put in a lot of direct quotes into the book so people can make up their own minds about him.”
Dr Slee said she is happy with the book, which has 150 images and pictures of the original transcript, and early reviews have been positive.
“It looks like a coffee table book and I would hate that to take from the text.
“I’ve tried to have him (John Ward) there on every page.”
The Oamaru Public Library will be holding a local launch of Dr Slee’s book on Wednesday, November 19 at 6pm.
By LINDA MCCARTHY