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Kate Kelly

The true story of Ned Kelly’s little sister

Rebecca Wilson has done a terrific job in combining a Biography and Australian History within a very readable storyline in Kate Kelly. Her interest in Kate Kelly started as a young girl living in Forbes, where Kate spent her last years, listening to the stories passed down from her grandparents about Ned Kelly’s sister. Wilson offers a modern-day perspective to the life and times of the notorious young woman who had to change her name to survive.

The story of Kate Kelly’s life is interesting, and with the addition of many historic references and photos adds immensely to the interest and the theories put forward.  Kate was shown to be supportive of her brother and his gang and even put her horse’s shoes on backwards to fool the constables. But mostly we follow Kate’s path as she matures and makes her way alone.

 In the late 1800’s, after her brother died, Kate worked at a sheep station where she met and married a man who gradually became restless and violent. He was jealous of the remarkable skills Kate had with horses. She helped break in some of the wild horses and was respected for her handling of them. She had a several pregnancies and was devastated when a number of the babies did not survive, as family ties were strong with her. At times alcohol was her only escape from pain. She was found dead in a lagoon, just outside of Forbes in 1898 in what was considered even then, as mysterious circumstances.

There are testimonies about Kate calling her “A Good Woman.” The inquest that was held after her death is described, as is her funeral. Past residents of Forbes told a story about Kate’s brother coming to find her children, to take care of them. The oral histories are engaging, as are the discoveries revealed by the research carried out.  The skillful combination of facts makes this an engrossing read.

Author Rebecca Wilson
Publisher Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781760879679
Distributor Allen & Unwin
Released February 2021