What was life like in the Victorian underworld who were the criminals, what crimes did they commit, how did they come to a criminal career, and what happened to them after they were released from prison? Victorian Convicts, by telling the stories of a hundred criminal men and women, gives the reader an insight into their families and social background, the conditions in which they lived, their relationships and working lives, and their offences. They reveal how these individuals were treated by the justice and penal system of 150 years ago, and how they were regarded by the wider world around them. Such a rare and authentic insight into life in and out of prison will be fascinating reading for anyone who is interested in the history of crime and criminals, in legal and prison history and in British society in the nineteenth century.
Chapter two explores the fundamental issue that gives reason and legitimacy to the use of sensational narratives: convict transportation. Chapter three examines how the gold fields were represented as a place for British men to gain wealth, assume different identities, shed troublesome pasts, and, perhaps, engage in criminal activity. Chapter four considers how Victorians judged the Australian immigrant experience as one that must be evaluated in hindsight, from the vantage point of having returned to Britain. Chapter five discusses how contemporary Australian fiction has rewritten the colonial era in order to expose the mechanisms by which British culture influenced the colonies. Authors examined in the dissertation include Dickens, Clarke, Trollope, Boldrewood, Wilde, Kingsley, Hardy, Malouf, and Carey.