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Mrs Kelly

Mrs Kelly 3

The Astonishing Life of Ned Kelly's Mother

by Grantlee Kieza

Hardback Publication Date: 20/02/2017

4/5 Rating 3 Reviews Add your review
RRP  $39.99 $31.99

While we know much about the iconic outlaw Ned Kelly, his mother Ellen Kelly has been largely overlooked by Australian writers and historians until now, with this vivid and compelling portrait by Grantlee Kieza, one of Australia's most popular biographers.

When Ned Kelly's mother, Ellen, arrived in Melbourne in 1841 aged nine, British convict ships were still dumping their unhappy cargo in what was then known as the colony of New South Wales.

By the time she died aged ninety-one in 1923, having outlived seven of her twelve children, motor cars plied the highway near her bush home north of Melbourne, and Australia was a modern, sovereign nation.

Like so many pioneering women, Ellen, the wife of a convict, led a life of great hardship. Born in Ireland during a time of entrenched poverty and sectarian violence, she was a mother of seven when her husband died after months in a police lock-up. She lived through famine and drought, watched her babies die, listened through the prison wall while her eldest son was hanged and saw the charred remains of another of her children who'd died in a shoot-out with police.

One son became Australia's most infamous (and ultimately most celebrated) outlaw; another became a highly decorated policeman, an honorary member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and a worldwide star on the rodeo circuit. Through it all, 'the notorious Mrs Kelly', as she was dubbed by Victoria's Assistant Police Commissioner, survived as best she could, like so many pioneering women of the time.

By bestselling biographer Grantlee Kieza, Mrs Kelly is the astonishing story of one of Australia's most notorious women and her wild family, but it's also the story of the making of Australia, from struggling colony and backwater to modern nation.

Biography: general
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HarperCollins Publishers
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Grantlee Kieza

Award-winning journalist Grantlee Kieza has held senior editorial positions at The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and The Courier-Mail.

He is a Walkley Award finalist and the author of twelve acclaimed books, including the recent bestsellers Bert Hinkler: The Most Daring Man in the World, Sons of the Southern Cross and Monash.

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Customer Reviews

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  • A Wonderful story - very enjoyable

    by on

    What a great read.

  • Outstanding

    by on

    I've read a lot of Ned Kelly books and this is the best so far. Hard hitting, the Kellys are shown as dangerous people but old Mrs kelly comes through everything that life throws at her. Truly an astonishing life.

  • Grantlee Kieza Mrs Kelly.

    by on

    This book promises much but delivers little. It is just another Ned the hero book, with Ned's mother Ellen as the focus. Like Kelly authors before him, Kieza relies on sentimentality and melodrama to push his 'lets feel sorry for the Kellys' message. During her heyday as a shanty operator, Ellen Kelly was not a respected member of her Greta community. She ran a sleezy, sly grog shop catering for thieves and bush larrikins. Her criminal sons stole their neighbours' horses, intimidating and threatening the lives and property of anyone who got in their way. Kieza makes up dialogue, dramatizes everything and contributes to the myth that Mrs Kelly was just like every other women in her community, promiscuous, foulmouthed and always up for a brawl. Most pioneer women were nothing like Ellen Kelly, either in their attitude or behaviour. It is an insult and a misreading of Greta community mores to suggest they were. The Kellys were notorious criminals and everybody knew it. To excuse them their crimes and turn Ellen Kelly into some sort of rural Mother Theresa because she was justly punished for what she did, is to adopt a 'feel good' attitude towards cunning criminals who preyed on society without remorse or contrition. Kieza's Mrs Kelly is no more than a caricature and his book a misleading version of Kelly family history.