The Tin Ticket: Heroic Journey of Australia’s Convict Women
There’s a joke: A tourist passing through Customs in Sydney is asked by the agent if he has a criminal record. The tourist responds, “Is it still necessary?”
Most people know that early Australia and its near island of Tasmania were settled in large part by convicts deported from England. But few realize that of the 162,000 men, women and children cast out of Great Britain, from 1788 to 1868, in shackles with a numbered tin ticket around their necks, fewer than 2 percent were violent offenders. In fact, a staggering 65 percent were destitute first offenders whose only crime often was stealing food or clothing with which to survive. Of these unfortunates, 25,000 were women. Those who survived rough seas and the rougher abuse of sailors on their voyage often didn’t live through their incarceration at the infamous Cascades Work Factory in Tasmania. And as many as 900 of their children died there, as a result of dismal conditions. No wonder the place was branded “The Valley of Death.”
This incredibly well-researched work of nonfiction tells of the brave and determined women who made that forced journey. The author focuses specifically on four female convicts who were among the pioneer heroes leading the world toward equal rights for women. As well, the reader follows the inspiring efforts of “radical” Quaker reformer Elizabeth Fry as she does battle for women convicts both in Newgate Prison and on the convict ships. This is a book that deserves an honored place in any historical collection. The writing is crisp and easy to follow, well-paced, and never feels dry. Vivid images and poignant moments bring this black episode of history into sharp focus. The Tin Ticket is a highly recommended read for anyone interested in Great Britain’s, Australian, or Tasmanian history – a gem of a resource.