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Henry Savery Henry Savery i(A6279 works by)
Also writes as: Simon Stukeley
Born: Established: 4 Aug 1791 Somerset,
United Kingdom (UK),
Western Europe, Europe,
; Died: Ceased: 6 Feb 1842 Port Arthur, Tasman Peninsula, Forestier Peninsula - Tasman Peninsula area, Southeast Tasmania, Tasmania,
Gender: Male
Arrived in Australia: 9 Dec 1825
Heritage: English
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Savery failed in business and was sentenced to transportation for forgery, arriving in Hobart in December 1825. His literary reputation is based primarily on his claim to the first collection of Australian essays, The Hermit in Van Diemen's Land (1829), and the first Australian novel, Quintus Servinton (1831). While these works exhibit little literary merit, they attract interest because of their unique status, their descriptions of the transportation system and their autobiographical nature. Savery was emancipated in 1832, but re-offended and was sent to Port Arthur. He died there in 1842. The Fellowship of Australian Writers, Tasmania, conducts two biennial short story competitions, one of which is the Henry Savery Short Story competition. In 1992 a commemorative tombstone was unveiled on the Isle of the Dead, Port Arthur, in honour of Savery.

Further biographical information on Savery can be found in E. Morris Miller Pressmen and Governors : Australian Editors and Writers in Early Tasmania (1952): 53-57.

Most Referenced Works


  • See also the full Australian Dictionary of Biography Online entry for Savery, Henry.

Affiliation Notes

  • Australian Colonial Narrative Journalism:

    Over six months in 1829, Henry Savery used the pseudonym Simon Stukeley to write weekly sketches of Hobart life for the Colonial Times. The sketches were published under the heading “The Hermit – in Van Diemen’s Land”. These were collected and published under the same name in book form the following year. Savery acknowledged in the preface that The Hermit in London (1820) was the model for the title of his sketches.

    The essays in the book covered “Manners, Society and Public Characters”, and contained thinly disguised descriptions of about 150 people in Hobart Town. Savery was in gaol for debt when the sketches were written but they were sufficiently accurate to cause a furore on their publication. 

    When Andrew Bent, the publisher of the paper, advertised the impending publication of the book, he was sued successfully by the lawyer Gamaliel Butler who had no desire to see the article about him reappear. The damages and costs forced Bent to sell the paper to Henry Melville who became a prominent publisher in the colony. Savery’s name was never mentioned in the case.

    Savery’s true identity as the author was not revealed till long after his death in 1842.

    Selected Articles:


    • Savery, Henry (1964) The Hermit in Van Diemen’s Land, (edited and biographical introduction by Hadgraft, Cecil, with notes on the persons by Roe, Margriet) St Lucia: University of Queensland Press
Last amended 7 Feb 2018 11:54:10
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