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About the book
  • Published: 2 June 2020
  • ISBN: 9781760894467
  • Imprint: Michael Joseph
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $32.99

The Last Convict




A moving and insightful novel about the life and times of Samuel Speed, believed to be the last of the transported convicts to die in Australia, and a vivid recreation of life in Australia’s penal era by the bestselling author of Soldier Boy.

‘It’s a good story, Samuel. You’re a piece of living history.’

Oxford 1863: Young Samuel Speed sets a barley stack alight in the hope it will earn him a bed in prison for the night. He wants nothing more than a morsel of food in his belly and a warm place to sleep off the streets. What he receives is a sentence of seven years’ servitude, to be served half a world away in the penal colony of Fremantle, Western Australia.

When Samuel boards the transport ship Belgravia, he is stripped of his clothing and even his name, and given regulations of when to rise, eat, clean and sleep. On arrival at Fremantle Prison, hard labour is added to the mix and he wonders if life can get any worse. The only solace he finds is a love of reading, which allows the likes of Tom Sawyer and Oliver Twist to become his lifelong friends.

Samuel is granted a ticket of leave in 1867 and full freedom in 1871, but what sort of life can a man forge for himself in the colony, with no skills, no money and no family? Will it be the beginning of the life he has always dreamed of, or do some sentences truly never end?

A colourful recreation of the life and times of the last known convict to be sent to Australia, The Last Convict is a moving study of old age and loneliness, as one social outcast finds meaning in his impoverished life through the power of literature. Meticulously researched and brilliantly woven into an engaging fictional account, it is an unforgettable story by an award-winning writer and historian.

  • Pub date: 2 June 2020
  • ISBN: 9781760894467
  • Imprint: Michael Joseph
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $32.99

About the Author

Anthony Hill

Anthony Hill is a multi-award-winning, bestselling author. His most recent book for adults, The Story of Billy Young, was published in 2012.

His novel Soldier Boy, about Australia's youngest known Anzac, was winner of the 2002 NSW Premier's Literary Award for Books for Young Adults. His most recent children's book, Captain Cook's Apprentice, won the 2009 NSW Premier's Young People's History Prize. It follows Soldier Boy, Young Digger and Animal Heroes as further testimony to his remarkable ability to extensively research historical material and, from wide-ranging sources, piece together a moving and exciting story.

He is also the author of two novellas, the beautiful Shadow Dog, and the award-winning The Burnt Stick, illustrated by Mark Sofilas, as well as the picture book, Lucy's Cat and the Rainbow Birds, illustrated by Jane Tanner.

Anthony lives in Canberra with his wife, Gillian. Their daughter, son-in-law and grand-daughter, Emily, live in Melbourne.

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