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A true tale of Australia’s first white settlement.
A true tale of Australia’s first white settlement.
Letitia Munro is a true tale of those who in witless ignorance transform the world’s biggest prison into a land of free enterprise and pride.
Ignominy of servitude was bred into the first white Australians as was irrefragable support for the underdog, determination of purpose towards mateship, their flippant attitude to authority and conventions of class distinction, and a will to cleave a path out of adversity to grasp chance and create opportunity.
Their children grow up in the shadows of their parents’ pasts, unwitting of the social taboos being woven into the fabric of their spawning culture.
When the sins of their fathers become beholden on them as society values change, must they deny their very heritage?
London, December 1786...
It all happened so quickly.
Guilt, disappointment, frustration, and despair--each emotion flashed through her mind in seconds.
It all should have been so easy. It was not as if they hadn’t rehearsed it over and over, not only in their minds but on their feet, real live movements to make sure everything would happen as planned, that there could be no slip-up, no chance of regrets over something having been overlooked in the planning.
Yet here we are in the watch-house, to be taken from here to be charged, then hustled off to prison until our trial comes up. And there’s no way out of being charged, them catching us red-handed.
“I did my best, Lettice, really I did.”
“Well, we got to face it, Ann. What went wrong doesn’t really matter, does it? It’s over! We mulled it, and we can’t go back to start it over so that it comes out right.”
“Whoever would have thought somebody could come in at that very moment, Lettice, that he looked up to see?”
“Well, we didn’t plan on that happening, Ann, which now we can only put down to us not thinking that it could happen. But it’s too late now to start blaming poor planning.”
It had been but a small bolt of cloth--merely ten yards, the court was to be later told. Titia had chosen it from all the others not because she liked the fabric but simply because it was closest to the door that she could slip it under her cloak and run into the street before old Rolison realised what was happening. Bolts of cloth attracted welcome shillings along Fenchurst Street, shillings that would feed them for a month.
“I did what you’d said, asked him to show me hooks and buttons so he’d have to turn his back. Then that customer comes in so he looks towards the door just as you’re tuckin’ it under your cape. It’s simply awful bad luck.”
“Seven years in the female prison, they’ll give us. No use pleading for a second chance, because they don’t give second chances. We’ve always known that, Ann. But with luck, at your age, you might get out of it easier.”
“They might reckon fourteen is too young to put you in prison. Or you might get a shorter sentence. If you’d thought quick enough you could have acted surprised, pretended you didn’t know me. But to scream and run was stupid.”
“I was frightened. But as you say, it’s too late now.”
Titia nodded. And there was the hint of a shoulder shrug.
She knew nothing could turn time backwards.
The cold, hard fact is that we were caught and must now face the consequence.
They were not close friends. They had teamed up out of desperation. Neither had regular work, so shoplifting at least found them pennies for food. And working together gave them greater opportunity to distract someone’s attention while the other made the grab. It wasn’t easy for single girls to find enough to eat in a world of steal or starve, especially in London. It had worked well enough before, but Titia at least realised that Lady Luck wouldn’t smile on them forever.
Six long, chilly, frightening months they waited in Southwark New Gaol, the frightening part being that there was no protection for girls in prison from men who didn’t hesitate to resort to rape if peaceful overtures didn’t work. But the girls had discovered on the streets that simple bravado was a great defence if they didn’t let the trembling show, that they illustrate only defiance. And defiance came more easily for Titia, being nineteen; she could demonstrate anger and determination more than Ann.
“You always stand behind me when it comes to this sort of argument,” she had instructed, and Ann was happy for the care, despite her natural inclination was to play the coquette, tease the boys along with fluttering eyelids and cheeky smiles.
But in prison it was no game. Self-protection was serious stuff.
And when the trial came, they were sentenced to hang.
“They won’t really hang us, will they, Lettice?”
Following a career in business management at international level, Kev attained a degree in journalism to then sweat as far up the River Nile as one can get, canoe down the Amazon, flash countless rolls of film from atop the Eiffel Tower, the heights above Yosemite, the Victoria Falls et al, scream “Ole” at a Chihuahua bullfight, ride elephant trails in Thai jungles, wallow in the incredible history of Rapa Nui’s Maoi, and as convention almost demands, was mugged in Bogota. His articles on travel to exotic lands have featured in travel and airline magazines around the world.
Meanwhile, being a sixth generation descendant of Australia’s First Fleeters with an obsessive interest in Australia’s founding history, he was concerned over the generations of suppression in the education of Australians, on clouding the truth in what really happened. Years of fact-finding with the help of other dedicated researchers revealed all and Kev vowed to set the history books aright by bringing the brutal truths of convictism to light. He is well qualified to do so for as a student of First Fleet history he has presented his subject on many occasions in press, radio and television interviews. He is a Past President of ‘The First Fleet Fellowship’ and a Past Secretary of ‘The Descendants of Convicts Inc.’. During Australia’s 1988 Bicentenary he officiated in Founding celebrations in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and Norfolk Island and for his work during that Bicentenary, was created Honorary Life Member of ‘The Regiment of Redcoat Descendants’.
Kev now devotes his life to writing on not only his country’s convict history, but general fiction with an Australian flavour. He recognises the growing trend towards digital reading so follows the world’s top authors in publishing his works both as traditional paperbacks and eBooks.
His Gurrewa and Brogan series released by Wings ePress are to be followed by Letitia Munro in December 2008, To Plough Van Diemen’s Land in June 2009 and The Terrible Truths in December 2009, the last three being more works on his country’s convict beginnings. Short synopses of all can be read on www.kev-richardson.com. And more works are in the pipeline.
These days Kev travels less, having retired from his Gold Coast home, left his grown family and friends to write from experiences and adventures during his exciting travels, happily ensconced in the foothills of the Golden Triangle in amazing Thailand’s exotic north.
I very much enjoyed Brogan--it makes me want to go explore the channel country and corner-country. What a fascinating part of Australian history! -- Karen Babcock, editor
FIVE-STAR AWARD! Although our hero, Adam Ashby is Kev Richardson’s fictionalized convict-birthed character born to an unwed couple, a ‘bolted’ convict and his ‘colony wife’, this story nonetheless represents the real life history of New South Wales’ struggles to become more than just an overflow prison for England’s criminals. For those of you who miss the history in your Historical reads, you’ll not be disappointed in this factional account of Australian history 1790–1820s. “I just love the way you throw a story together.” -- JoEllen, Conger Book Reviews, USA
Letitia Munro: Richardson shows very poignantly where the Australian ‘free spirit’ and attitudes to authority stem from. As a glimpse into the times of just over 200 years ago, it is a fine historical record. I enjoyed this work immensely; it should be compulsory reading for all, especially Australians. -- Lang Reid “Chiang Mai Mail” and “Pattaya Mail”
Five Star Award! Letitia Munro, by Kev Richardson, himself a 6th generation descendant First Fleeter, continues his authentic historical account about the 162,000 convicts imprisoned on New South Wales. It was a land that not even the king himself knew had too little fresh water for drinking, or sufficient tillable soil to support the hoards of convicts he sent to populate the colony. -- JoEllen Conger—Conger Books Reviews, USA
Letitia Munro: I just love the way you throw a story together… -- JoEllen Conger—Conger Books Reviews, USA
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 290
Paper Weight (lb): 12.5
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