Caroline Leakey, writing as Oliné Keese, published her first and only novel, The Broad Arrow, in 1859. It tells the story of Maida Gwynnham, a young middle-class woman lured into committing a forgery by her deceitful lover, Captain Norwell, and then wrongly convicted of infanticide. The novel’s title describes the arrow that was stamped onto government property, including the clothes worn by convicts—a symbol of shame and incarceration. With its ‘fallen woman’ protagonist, its gothic undertones and its exploration of the social and moral implications of the penal system, this little-known novel gives an insight into a significant chapter of Australian history from a uniquely female perspective. Published more than ten years before Marcus Clarke’s For the Term of His Natural Life (1870), it is also a neglected part of Australian literary history.
In this new critical edition, editor Jenna Mead restores material that was cut when the novel was reissued in a radically abridged version in 1886. This restored material is subtly highlighted, allowing interested readers to observe the extent and effect of the 1886 edits, without distracting from the story. It sheds light on the shifting tastes and priorities of the reading public and of publishers in the second half of the nineteenth century, while restoring for the first time in over a century the complete original text of Leakey’s important work.
Jenna Mead trained as a medievalist, specializing in English literature of the late fourteenth century. She has published research on the works of Geoffrey Chaucer and on inquiry into the afterlives of medieval culture, known as medievalism. She has also published research on Australian women's fiction and feminist cultural studies. A long-term commitment to pedagogy has produced papers in the scholarship of teaching and learning. As Academic Co-ordinator, 2011-2013, she established the Bachelor of Philosophy (Hons), an undergraduate research degree, at the University of Western Australia.
Oliné Keese (born Caroline Woolmer Leakey) was born in Exeter, England in 1827. She received limited schooling during her childhood, but read avidly, particularly poetry. While living in Van Diemen’s Land with her sister, she began to write poetry, and she published her only volume of poetry Lyra Australis, or Attempts to Sing in a Strange Land in 1854. She died in 1881.
A Note on the Text
A Note on the Illustrations
1. The festival
2. Maida Gwynnham
3. Captain Norwell
4. The felon
5. Bob Pragg
6. Mary Doveton
7. The reverend Herbert Evelyn
8. Too late
9. The Cousins
10. The lie
11. The Rose of Britain
12. Lucy Grenlow’s tale
13. Mulgrave battery and the lodge
14. The paraclete
15. Uncle Ev and uncle Ev’s notions
16. Doubts on more subjects than one
17. A walk about Hobarton and a talk about the tasmanians
18. Aunt Evelyn and family matters
19. Being nothing particular
20. H.M.S. Anson
21. The initiation – without
22. The initiation – within
23. Being one about Bridget
24. The post office
25. A T.L.
26. The conflict
27. An old acquaintance
28. H.M. General Hospital, Hobarton
29. Port Arthur – O.P.S.O. – The Kangaroo
30. Port Arthur – the settlement
31. A day dream and night vision
32. The isle of the dead
34. Bridget again
35. The awakening – more victims
Summary of minor variants
"Altogether, Mead’s critical edition of The Broad Arrow is a welcome, comprehensive and assiduously researched investigation of the history of a narrative that reinforces interest in material and literary histories of nineteenth-century Australian fiction. Moreover, Mead graciously refrains from any unnecessary adulation of Leakey’s work and successfully situates The Broad Arrow at an intersection of various literary, cultural and historical trajectories that open up significant new avenues of enquiry."
Narelle Ontivero Australian Literary Studies
‘This new edition of The Broad Arrow is not just the definitive edition of a hugely important colonial novel which should be read on its own terms, but is a valuable contribution to textual scholarship, and will undoubtedly remain a reference work for years to come.’
Tim Causer Journal of Australian Colonial History
'The Broad Arrow is much more than a romantic story ... the main Van Diemen’s Land part is absorbing ... every page tells the reader something about the colony. This is an important book for the historian and for anyone interested in nineteenth century Tasmania.'
Alison Alexander Papers and Proceedings: Tasmanian Historical Research Association
Size: 250 × 176 × 33 mm
1 b&w table and 9 b&w illustrations
Copyright: © 2019
Publication: 01 Feb 2019
Series: Australian Classics Library