Vandemonians: The Repressed History of Colonial Victoria

Janet McCalman

From award-winning author and historian Janet McCalman, the engrossing tale of Tasmanian convict settlers in colonial Victoria. It was meant to be ‘Victoria the Free’, uncontaminated by the Convict Stain. Yet they came in their tens of thousands as soon as they were cut free or able to bolt. More than half of all those transported to Van Diemen’s Land as convicts would one day settle or spend time in Victoria. There they were demonised as Vandemonians. Some could never go straight; a few were the luckiest of gold diggers; a handful founded families with distinguished descendants. Most slipped into obscurity. Burdened by their pasts and their shame, their lives as free men and women, even within their own families, were forever shrouded in secrets and lies. Only now are we discovering their stories and Victoria’s place in the nation’s convict history. As Janet McCalman examines this transported population of men, women and children from the cradle to the grave, we can see them not just as prisoners, but as children, young people, workers, mothers, fathers and colonists. From the author of Struggletown and Journeyings, this rich study of the lives of unwilling colonisers is an original and confronting new history of our convict past-the repressed history of colonial Victoria.

Judge’s Comment

Vandemonians is a sparkling and lucidly told history, enlivened by the colourful detail of the lives McCalman writes about. As a prosopography (an investigation using diverse data sources of the characteristics of a group of people), it contributes to the understanding of Tasmanian convict settlers in Victoria from a range of angles. Not only does it uncover new aspects of Australia's colonial history, but by illuminating newly mapped information in the database the Founders and Survivors Ships Project, it also encourages future researchers, both scholarly and novice, to learn more about the Vandemonians – ensuring that the book's impact extends beyond its pages.

Winner, Scholarly Non-Fiction Book of the Year
Resource type
Student Resource
Arts/Humanities/Social Sciences
September 2021
Print only

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