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Introduction by Rohan Wilson
A masterpiece in style and scope, Marcus Clarke’s For the Term of His Natural Life is an ambitious tale of tragedy, redemption, and the ugliness and resilience of man.
Wrongfully convicted of a crime he did not commit, a young aristocrat is sent to pay his dues in Van Diemen’s Land. As a criminal in this new colony, Rufus Dawes is forced to endure tremendous suffering and inhumanity, from the baseless cruelty of those in power to the harsh brutalities of an untamed country. Yet, with enduring human spirit and unrelenting determination, Dawes remains ever desperate to clear his name, no matter the trials that come his way.
First published in 1874, Marcus Clarke’s vivid and brutal depictions of convict life have come to define our colonial history. Still beloved by readers today, For the Term of His Natural Life remains the most important Australian book of the nineteenth century, and a vital part of our cultural and literary identity.
‘Terrible and tragic, but seething with intense human life…A masterpiece.’