Today is the 11th of November and apart from being Remembrance Day (marking the end of WW1) and the day Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was dismissed in 1975 (“a day which will live in infamy”.) it is also the day that Ned Kelly was hanged in 1880. This month, I have decided to do Ned Kelly November. The idea was sparked by my seeing publicity that Sophie Masson has released another Ned Kelly book called Ned Kelly’s secret. Since I enjoyed Masson’s The Hunt for Ned Kelly, which was released in 2010 I thought it was an idea worth exploring. In terms of my opinion about whether he is a hero or a villain, I will happily sit on the fence. I do believe as Masson’s character Jamie states – Kelly was both dark and bright. He was a murderer and does not necessarily deserve hero status for his deeds as an adult, but he was also probably a victim of his time/society/class. Whilst this should not be an excuse, I do wonder about the integrity of the evidence/recollections of the time. Maybe I will be have more of an opinion at the end of the month!
If you want some good factual/non emotive information on Kelly the State Library of Victoria has a good fact sheet http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/explore/fact-sheets/ned-kelly-fact-sheet.
So, first book – Sophie Masson – The Hunt for Ned Kelly. I like the even handedness of Masson’s story and the way she has weaved a photo and news articles into the story to give it authenticity. Her characters of Jamie and Ellen are plausible and their experiences at Beechworth and unwittingly with the Kelly gang quite believable. It is easy to read and is in diary form, with the narrator being 13 year old Jamie but this also adds to its value. Similarly many of the descriptions of the time and the people are rich and vivid. I look forward to Ned Kelly’s Secret. There are plenty of resources for the Hunt for Ned Kelly such as this http://www.scholastic.com.au/schools/education/teacherresources/assets/pdfs/MAS_Hunt_for_Ned_Kelly_TN.pdf