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  • Writer's pictureBridget Walsh

Research for historical novels - Part 2 - Transportation. (2 min read) #irishhistoricalnovels

It is 1846 and the Famine in Ireland is still building. At the end of my first novel, Daughters of the Famine Road, Jane Keating, one of my main characters, was transported as a convict to Australia.

Jane's journey opens the second novel, Daughters in Exile. Thankfully, I found out that the British government had introduced a new way of getting convicts into Melbourne, in around 1846. Those who had served a part of their sentence in England were given a pardon. They were known as Grey's Exiles. They would be welcomed in Melbourne, as their pardon wiped away the 'convict stain.'

Following an accident at sea, Jane Keating and the other women convicts from Dublin were transferred aboard a Pentonville prison ship bound for New South Wales. In this way, Jane would end up with a free pardon, on arrival in Port Phillip Bay and Melbourne. This would allow her to being to make a life for herself, albeit a temporary one.

This is just one example of how researching historical facts can help to form the trajectory of the novel and the plot, with the help of a little imagination.

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