'I have been wronged and my mother and four or five men lagged innocent and is my brothers and sisters and my mother not to be pitied also who has no alternative only to put up with the brutal and cowardly conduct of a parcel of big ugly fat-necked wombat headed big bellied magpie legged narrow hipped splaw-footed sons of Irish Bailiffs or english landlords which is better known as Officers of Justice or Victorian Police…
'Outlaw, murderer, self-proclaimed victim, Ned Kelly is an Australian icon. But who was he? Kelly’s extraordinary achievement is to have provided his own answer to that question. The Jerilderie Letter is his remarkable manifesto and a startling record of his voice.
'Kelly delivered his letter, which Joe Byrne had diligently written out, on Monday 10 February 1879, immediately after his gang had held up the Bank of New South Wales in Jerilderie. He gives an impassioned defence of his actions, condemns those who have wronged him, and sends a chilling warning to those who may yet defy him.
'This illustrated edition, transcribed from the manuscript now housed in the State Library of Victoria, includes a fascinating new introduction by the historian Alex McDermott. The Jerilderie Letter remains one of the most astonishing documents in Australian history.' (Publication summary)
Unit Suitable For
AC: Year 10 (NSW Stage 5)
Australian history, Australian identity, identity, justice, memory, morality, myth-making, rebellion
Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Information and communication technology, Literacy, Personal and social
'The Jerilderie Letter was written for publication, but it is not a work of literature. It is not history either as it makes no claim to objectivity. It has been called a confession, but it is not one, because the writer expresses no shame, no guilt and no repentance. It is kin to the speeches that once condemned men were allowed to make when they mounted the scaffold where they were to die, in which they told their versions of the events that had led them to that point. The letter’s author, notorious bushranger Ned Kelly, knew when he composed it that he was certain to hang.' (Introduction)