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The Tin Ticket: The Heroic Journey of Australia's Convict Women

3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  434 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews
Historian Deborah J. Swiss tells the heartbreaking, horrifying, and ultimately triumphant story of the women exiled from the British Isles and forced into slavery and savagery-who created the most liberated society of their time.

Agnes McMillan and Janet Houston were convicted for shoplifting. Bridget Mulligan stole a bucket of milk; Widow Ludlow Tedder, eleven spoons. Fo
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 5th 2010 by Berkley (first published September 21st 2010)
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Oct 16, 2015 Kavita rated it liked it
Shelves: history, real-women
Take an interesting story, do impeccable research, then ruin it all with extravagant prose and over-emotional drama – that’s The Tin Ticket. Nothing speaks more for the need of a good editor than this book. The writing is bad. There are too many adjectives used and after a while one does get tired of the ‘stately Quaker’ and the ‘grey eyed lass’ and would prefer a return to the simpler Elizabeth and Agnes. Also, I know you are talking about a Scottish girl but can you dispense with the ‘lasses’ ...more
Jan 28, 2014 Moira rated it really liked it
A fascinating, thoroughly researched topic but a difficult book to rate. Do I give it a four for it's research and details, or a three for the irritating writing and lack of balance? What happened to the editor? The initial pages are so full of florid writing (no noun appears without several adjectives attached!) and, for goodness sake - her name was AGNES - why do we need "the grey eyed girl" again and again?

I nearly gave up but the topic is so interesting that I gritted my teeth, put off my Tu
May 12, 2013 Nancy rated it liked it
The reviews from readers of this book are all over the map, some harsh, others full of praise.
The book did not seem overwrought to me, but rather a page turner. That said, of course there is fictionalization of the experience of the women who were forced into transport. And, yes, the author makes it quite clear that she found the evidence of what happened to them appalling. But also there is hope, since many of these convicts became productive and resourceful settlers in Australia.
For me this
Jan 23, 2011 Shannon rated it really liked it
Shelves: swapped-donated
The story of several convict women who were shipped by the British government to Australia for labor. I picked up this book not realizing it was considered nonfiction. It took me a while before I even noticed because I was wrapped up in reading about the first main character in the book, Agnes.

I was expecting most of the book to be focused on the life in Australia, but the author author also details the "justice" system and socioeconomic environment that drove impoverished women and men to theft
Aug 17, 2011 Brooke rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
2.5 stars. I think Deborah Swiss should be commended for giving voice to women transported to Van Diemen's land in the the mid 19th century. I read "The Fatal Shore" by Robert Hughes several years ago and found his narrative on the settling of Australia's mainland to be well-researched and dispassionate. I was hoping to find in this book a similar nonfiction account.

Swiss follows three women transported from England for petty crimes. She winds their tale from their inauspicious beginnings in va
This book was recommended to me by Shellie - Layers of Thought. Thanks Shellie! There were several Female Factories not just in Tasmania. Two of my female Irish (Co. Cavan) ancestors were sent to the Parramatta Female Factory during the last years of transportation.
Co.Cavan Ireland was hard hit by the Great Famine in the mid-19th century. In the winter of 1847, the local landlord in Mountnugent parish decided to evict over 200 people. The famous ballad "B
Oct 12, 2010 Shannon rated it it was amazing
Too often the historical contributions and achievements of women have been overlooked, or at best given 'token' status in textbooks. Deborah Swiss has done something incredible with the Tin Ticket. Here she uncovers the stories of 4 women who were victimized by the British crown, and transported to Van Dieman's land for crimes bred by abject poverty to assist in the 'taming' of her Majesty's colonial outliers between 1788 and 1868. Amazingly, these women, despite the desperation of their forced ...more
This book chronicles the lifes of 3 women sent to Australia during the convict transports of the early to mid-1800s. It also relates the kindness of one Quaker woman who strove for prison reform for women prisoners, tells of the women's imprisonment in Australia, and what life was like after gaining freedom.

Why I started reading - It caught my eye when a library customer returned it. I'd never read anything on this topic before.

What kept me reading? The author's ability to tell the facts in a st
Jenny Brown
Mar 13, 2012 Jenny Brown rated it it was ok
The topic of this book was compelling, but the writing was so emotionally overwrought it was difficult to read. No noun appeared without an unnecessary adjective, and Swiss's outrage bristles on every page, ironically making it hard for the reader to learn about what it is that got her so enraged.

Lacking much in the way of sources, she seems to have fallen into the trap of elaborating in a fictional way on what she imagined might have happened, creating scenes that aren't based on anything but
Aug 02, 2011 Peggy rated it it was amazing
Just prior to the reign of Queen Victoria, the British government attempted to solve two of its problems (the threat of losing its Australian colonies due to a lack of colonists and a massive underclass of working poor forced to steal simply to survive) by transporting its prisoners to the far-flung colonies and forcing them to serve their time there. Some 25,000 of these transportees were women (their dependent children were often transported, too), most convicted of petty theft. Their lives in ...more
Dani Haviland
Sep 19, 2012 Dani Haviland rated it it was amazing
I read this book for research on my fifth book, FAIRIES DOWN UNDER (a time travel saga), but found myself enjoying it as a novel, entranced with the lives of the women who were transported from England to Australia in 1786. Most of them were guilty only of trying to survive in a harsh and unsympathetic world.

I think every teenaged girl in a developed country should be required to read this book. Our daughters have so much and still complain that they are still being denied or neglected. Just be
Jul 12, 2016 Louise rated it it was amazing
Historian Deborah J. Swiss documents the fate of females from the British isles who were exiled in the 19th century for committing relatively minor crimes. When England was unable to recruit enough single women to help populate its colonies in Australia, Parliament resorted to conscripted slave labor. It specifically targeted and arrested female petty thieves. According to the author, over 65% were first offenders and many were the young children of mothers arrested for theft.

This is NOT/NOT a d
Aug 17, 2014 Susan rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-books-read
Middle of the road. It's clear that the author did a wonderful job researching this era, the transportation of women, and the specific women she follows. She can really bring the time period to life with vivid details. She was handicapped by the fact that her main subjects have all been dead for over 100 years and don't appear to have left any written diaries or other records. And it's here where the book fails for me. Sometimes when she starts embellishing their stories (based on the facts she ...more
Oct 20, 2012 Deborah rated it really liked it
I learned so much reading this book. I had known that Australia had been populated by convicts from Britian but did not know that so many had been women. The convicts were primarily women and girls who stole because they were starving. Seriously starving and often homeless. I had the opportunity to meet the author and was so touched for her passion for her work. These stories are often not told in the history books and so need to be.
Jan 09, 2012 Linda rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: any history lover
This is a true horror story. Women and chilren sent to Australia as prisoners, 85%of England society were poor and starving. Children as young a 4 sent to live on the street. After arrest they were thrown into filthy living conditions in prison to await a ship transferring prisoners to Australia . A story that needed to be told. Chilling and disgusting. A story of the human spirit and the struggle to survive
Dec 01, 2011 Camille rated it liked it
Good book but I wasn't' impressed with the writing. She would go off on tangents and not get back to the story for pages. Several facts were repeated several times, making the book quite a bit longer than it should have been.
However, it really brought to light the horrific conditions in the 1800's. It made me very grateful for my life and freedoms.
Jun 26, 2012 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Very interesting read. Well researched and full of interesting information not only about Australia and Tasmania's penal colonies, but life of the rich and poor in Scotland, Ireland, and England, influential women in 19th century prison reform, and the impact of industrialization of Britain and the Victorian era on culture and the law.
Oct 12, 2014 georgia rated it really liked it
2010 354 pages

Th is an interesting story of how women convicts were brought to Australia. Their transfer from England to this island country was beyond horrible. the jails were barbaric, getting out was nearly impossible. yet, a Quaker woman comes along to see conditions and makes a difference.

Historical books of this nature are very tough to read. Yet, I find it sort of macabre in a weird way. In many ways, some countries are still in this book's era of prison reform or lack there of. Individu
Jun 06, 2016 Kathleen rated it liked it
An interesting book, horrifying in the retelling of life in the early 19th century. The story concentrates on 4 women and their experiences of growing up and eventually ending up on a convict transport ship to Tasmania. I don't see how so many survived given the conditions of living.
I found the first 2/3 of the book went by fast but the last part dragged as the society became civilized. The author wanders too much from the story. Although it was interesting to learn about the justice system and
Luanne Ollivier
Dec 05, 2011 Luanne Ollivier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deborah J. Swiss's new book The Tin Ticket will appeal to lovers of history and historical fiction.

Although I knew that Australia had been populated by convicts during it's early settlement, I really didn't know the full story.

"For nearly one hundred years, England had routinely disposed of its convict population in the American colonies, and built its rich empire on the backs of convict and slave labor. However, the American Revolution, followed by the abolition of slavery, eliminated this opt
Feb 18, 2012 Fiona marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: genealogists, family historians
Shelves: genealogy
I finally finished this book. The delay was caused by my need to get a new script in my glasses, rather than the book itself.

I have a strong interest in the female convict story. I believe we have at least one in the family tree. I'm currently researching another link, but that story will have to wait. For that reason, I was probably highly motivated to read The Tin Ticket.

The book tells the stories of four convicts to varying degrees. Although we meet Agnes McMillan, Janet Houston, Bridget Mull
Feb 10, 2013 Mirelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading The Tin Ticket as a social commentary rather than "pure history". Given the current political climate, the not so shocking idea that the suffrage of women in Australia has hardly changed. Women still face discrimination, even though we have the vote, social welfare, the right to own land, the right to inherit and the right to work after marriage, we still do not have parity with male wages, women are more likely to live in poverty, and women under-represented in the media, poli ...more
Oct 05, 2011 George rated it liked it
Shelves: nook-st, non-fiction

“Realities and regrets were imbedded in nearly every decision it took to survive.”—page 63

Deborah J Swiss’s, ‘The Tin Ticket: The Heroic Journey of Australia’s Convict Women’ is more Dickensian than a novel by Charles Dickens, himself: “The workhouse was a death sentence for 23 percent of those who entered, a mortality rate more than double that for the homeless.”—page 29

Woman = Harsh Life is a recurring formula in both fiction and non-fiction. Like Lisa See’s and AhnChi
Feb 28, 2014 Elli rated it it was amazing
Dealing with forced transportation under primitive and ugly conditions to fulfill a prison sentence. Convicts sent from the British Isles to what was Dieman's Land, later became Tasmania. The author follows some of the cases (men as well)and along with getting to know descendants, and has thoroughly researched her topic and her subjects. The book is very readable, and one easily gets to know the characters and find them familiar. The situations are well described, too, and bring to light a numbe ...more
May 01, 2014 Kayla rated it liked it
I struggle with what to say about this book. It was an easy read, and not without enjoyment. I think it was mainly the writing style that bothered me the most. The author spends most of the book pointing out again and again and again, how women depended on one another for strength after being transported. While this is clearly the case, the length to which the author will go to state it time after time grew dull. I do wonder where the phrase "true blue pal" entered the authors mind, and why it t ...more
I enjoyed this book very much. I knew that England used Australia as a convict colony, but I had no idea the extent that women were sentenced to Transportation. As I read through the stories of the women portrayed in The Tin Ticket, I realized yet again how blessed I am to enjoy the freedom guaranteed by American Democracy. Agnes, Janet, Ludlow, and Bridget were strong-willed women who overcame unbelievable hardship, survived punishments not justified by petty mistakes, and withstood the tyranny ...more
Kerri Jones
Aug 15, 2015 Kerri Jones rated it really liked it
Factual account of female convicts from the UK who were transported to Van Diemans Land in the 1830s to Cascades Female Factory but what set this non fiction work apart was how it followed three particular, historical women through the journey. This made reading it more novel-like and to add more depth it was also interspersed with quotes and footnotes of historical worth. It was a really good read.
Jeris Johnson
Aug 09, 2014 Jeris Johnson rated it really liked it
A non fiction account of the justice system in Great Britain and the story of 5 convict women sent to the penal system in Australia. I really enjoyed learning while reading a book that told stories about real people, so read more like a story than just a non fiction book. Really enjoyed photos of places and ancestors of the women this story is about.
Mary Anne
Jul 14, 2012 Mary Anne rated it did not like it
This book was written like a dissertation for a course on Australian history. It is the story of women from Scotland, Ireland and Britain who were sentenced to deportation to Tasmania to serve their terms of imprisonment…mostly for petty theft.

There were characters’ stories woven into the book, but you had to wade through a lot of minutiae and errant details about Australian history. It took almost a third of the book for the first women to leave the British Isles. If you’ve read Dickens or kno
Dianne Clay
Oct 03, 2015 Dianne Clay rated it really liked it
Historically interesting and well researched. While it kept me interested, the writing was not as good as I expected. A lot of information was repeated in several places-read more like a history class term paper. I was inspired by the resilience if the women featured in the book. Glad I read it.
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Deborah Swiss is the author of The Tin Ticket: The Heroic Journey of Australia's Convict Women, and several other non-fiction books. Her latest project started with a chance meeting in a post office in Launceston, Tasmania in 2004. Tasmanian artist Christina Henri, whose work honors the female transports, happened to be in the same line and began to tell a story that led to six and a half years of ...more
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