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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

A retrospective rating and review.
A query from a Goodreads friend reminded me that I've read this one, many years ago. I think we read it in school?
I recall enjoying it, but can only offer this limited review.
I have fond memories of a very good live production of songs and reels reseached from the T

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

For the Term of His Natural Life was written between 1870 and 1872 and was serialised at the time in The Australian Journal that was also edited by the book's author Marcus Clarke. My copy read is the Penguin edition 2009 with an Introduction by George Ian Smith.

The intro is worth a read just to di

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

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