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For the Term of His Natural Life

Marcus Clarke

Book Overview: 

For the Term of his Natural Life, written by Marcus Clarke. It is the best known novelization of life as a convict in early Australian history. Described as a “ripping yarn”, and at times relying on seemingly implausible coincidences, the story follows the fortunes of Rufus Dawes, a young man transported for a murder which he did not commit. The harsh and inhumane treatment meted out to the convicts, some of whom were transported for relatively minor crimes, is clearly conveyed. The conditions experienced by the convicts are graphically described. The novel was based on research by the author as well as a visit to the penal settlement of Port Arthur, Tasmania.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ners—as he said, "it was a word and a blow with him"—but, among his superiors, he passed for an officer, honest and painstaking, though somewhat bluff and severe.

"Well, Mrs. Vickers," he said, as he took a cup of tea from the hands of that lady, "I suppose you won't be sorry to get away from this place, eh? Trouble you for the toast, Vickers!"

"No indeed," says poor Mrs. Vickers, with the old girlishness shadowed by six years; "I shall be only too glad. A dreadful place! John's duties, however, are imperative. But the wind! My dear Mr. Frere, you've no idea of it; I wanted to send Sylvia to Hobart Town, but John would not let her go."

"By the way, how is Miss Sylvia?" asked Frere, with the patronising air which men of his stamp adopt when they speak of children.

"Not very well, I'm sorry to say," returned Vickers. "You see, it's lonely for her here. There are no children of her own age, with the exception of the pi. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This is a tale with shadows of The Count of Monte Cristo. "For the Term of His Natural Life is a story written by Marcus Clarke and published in The Australian Journal between 1870 and 1872 (as His Natural Life). It wasublished as a novel in 1874 and is the best known novelisation of life as a convi

Over my holidays I’ve been writing some strange facts on Melbourne – in part, I’m hoping this becomes a book someday, but it is still hard to tell. Anyway, it has meant that I’ve been reading stuff about Melbourne and Australian history.

Part of that was to read this – something I was supposed to ha

This is the first Australian historical fiction dealing with convicts that I’ve read (as far as I can remember anyway) and I was truly looking forward to it. It’s a classic written in the late 19th century so I guess it was contemporary fiction when it was first written.

Basically, the story follows

Glad to see other reviewers mention The Count of Monte Cristo. I felt strong influence from that, and from Les Mis -- no worse for it, but rather an argument for unabashed influence. It was also an argument for pulp fiction, because it puts its pulp to great uses. A cracking read (I pinched that adj

Warning! This book is not for the faint hearted. Marcus Clarke wrote a story that would rightfully take the same place in Australian and British history as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin took in that of the United States. Most people (especially history buffs) know that Australia was orig

Bizarrely, my mother bought me this book when I was thirteen. It was bizarre because one of her instruments of emotional abuse during my teenage years came from controlling what I could read or watch. But then her obsession was with anything sexual, and this must have seemed like a nice old fashione

It was good fun reading this Aussie Classic with a bunch of mostly American readers in the Yahoo 19th century reading group. As I was leading the discussion, I had to start by clearing up some assumptions about this strange land of ours downunder. People overseas usually think of Australia as blue s

“We convicts have the advantage over you gentlemen. You are afraid of death; we pray for it. It is the best thing that can happen to us. Die! They were going to hang me once. I wish they had. My God, I wish they had!”

For The Term Of His Natural Life is the best-known novel by Australian author, Marc

Poignant and tender, Marcus Clarke's novel depicts both the ugliness and resilience of man. Its depiction of the harsh realities during early settlement, has ensured its status as an important Australian classic.

Accused of a crime he did not commit, Richard Devine- an English aristocrat, is sentence

This book was incredible. Fans of "The Count of Monte Cristo" and "Crime and Punishment" take note. Any fan of the "prison novel" or "prison movie" will likely enjoy this book immensely. The lead jailer - Maurice Frere - could easily have been the inspiration for the sadistic wardens of "Shawshank R

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