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The Dickens Boy
About the book
  • Published: 31 March 2020
  • ISBN: 9781760893194
  • Imprint: Vintage Australia
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $32.99

The Dickens Boy




In the late 1800s, rather than run the risk of your under-achieveing children tarnishing your reputation at home, you sent them to the colonies. At least that is what Charles Dickens did with two of his boys. (And Trollope did it too.)

In this joyful novel, our narrator is Charles Dickens’s tenth child, Edward Bulwer Lytton Dickens, known as Plorn. Sent, as his brother Alfred had been before him, at sixteen years of age, to Australia to learn to ‘apply himself’. We follow his early Australian adventures in outback NSW learning to become a man from the most diverse and toughest of men.
Part of Dickens’ motivation was to separate these younger of his children from the Dickens family schism, where Charles had expelled his wife from the family home, keeping her sister Georgie there to run the household and taking up with the actress Ellen Tiernan.
Plorn arrived in Melbourne in late 1868 carrying a terrible secret. He has never read a word of his father’s work. After a very brief stopover he is sent out to become a gentleman stockman on a 2000 square mile station in remotest, semi-arid parts of NSW. Here he inevitably gets enmeshed in a tribe named the Paakintji and various other folk, colonists, colonial-born, ex-convicts, ex-soldiers, and very few women – though he is struck by each one he meets.
Plorn did not expect he would encounter the same veneration of his father and familiarity with his work in Australia that was rampant in England. Against this backdrop, and featuring cricket tournaments, horse-racing, bushranging, sheep droving, shifty stock and station agents, frontier wars and first encounters with Australian women we follow Plorn, and sometimes his brother Alfred, through wonderful adventures as he works to apply himself.
This is Tom Keneally in his most familiar terrain. Taking historical figures and events and reimagining them with verve, compassion and humour. It is a romp.

  • Pub date: 31 March 2020
  • ISBN: 9781760893194
  • Imprint: Vintage Australia
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $32.99

About the Author

Tom Keneally

Thomas Keneally was born in 1935 and his first novel was published in 1964. Since then he has written a considerable number of novels and non-fiction works. His novels include The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Schindler's List and The People's Train. He has won the Miles Franklin Award, the Booker Prize, the Los Angeles Times Prize, the Mondello International Prize and has been made a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library, a Fellow of the American Academy, recipient of the University of California gold medal, and is now the subject of a 55 cent Australian stamp.

He has held various academic posts in the United States, but lives in Sydney.

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