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The Girl from Botany Bay

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  204 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Acclaim for Carolly Erickson"Carolly Erickson is one of the most accomplished and successful historical biographers writing in English."
-The Times Literary Supplement

The First Elizabeth

"Even more readable and absorbing than the justly praised works of Tuchman and Fraser. A vivid and eminently readable portrait of history's favorite Tudor."
-The New York Times Book Review

Hardcover, 234 pages
Published October 1st 2004 by Wiley (TP) (first published July 1st 2004)
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Feb 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book based on the life of Mary Broad/Bryant.Historical references are at the rear of the book .This has to be one of the best books I have ever read. I dont want to go into too much detail as it may spoil it for those who have not yet read it. It is about Mary's transportation to New Holland ( Australia) when the Island was first being colonised.It is based on a true story and actual events.It was a book I read in a matter of days due to the fact I could not put it down.IO would recomm ...more
Dec 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
story of a British convict, spared hanging to be sent to the new penal colony in Australia. the women were sent to keep the male convicts from falling into immoral sexual behaviors. the author is able to fill in around the little that is know of the actual day to day of the heroine with immense amounts of historical detail, much of it gruesome stuff. the result is nonfiction that reads like a novel.
Nat K
Jan 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting novel, about the life of Mary Bryant (Broad). Convicted as a highway woman and sentenced to being transported to Australia, this book really made feel the hardships she went through.

The book was written so descriptively that I could clearly visualise and sense the feelings of Mary's life.

There aren't too many books which focus on women's journeys to Australia as a fledging country, especially those who arrived as convicts. A thoroughly interesting read.
Sep 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A fascinating true life story which testifies to people's ability to life through unbelievable hardship and fierce will to live while others give up and die because of it. You wonder what drives someone like this when it seems like things are just getting worse and worse. Too bad we don't now what happened to her after she supposedly returns to her home in rural England.
Feb 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
In the second half of 1700s England was faced with a dilemma: What to do with their convicts. American continent was no longer available for it due to the American Revolution. So, England started looking for a new route. England started sending their convicts to Australia. This is a story of the very First Fleet to arrive. At the heart of the story is Mary Bryant, who was convicted for a highway robbery and sentenced for a transportation to Australia. Carolly Erickson does a great job describing ...more
Writer's Relief
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When 20-year-old Mary Bryant is condemned to death in 1789 for highway robbery, she is launched on a desperate journey of survival. Mary is pardoned, only to be sent on a prison ship to Australia with other convicts to spend seven years in the penal colony. The conditions of her 15,000-mile voyage are so horrible that it is hard to comprehend how anyone survived and in fact, many don’t. Once ashore, the wagon in which the convicts are shackled makes no pit stops along the way…so when the wind bl ...more
Jan 31, 2010 rated it liked it
Mary Bryant was from a poor farming family in the southwest of England in the year 1786. With not enough food and she left home to join the many who lived by their wits and by what ever means they could. At 21 she is arrested with 2 other girls for assaulting and robbing a woman on the road. At trial the 3 were sentenced to hang, but before the sentence was carried
out they were picked to be transported to Australia on the first of the ships of convicts to be sent to that new land to cement Briti
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Great Britain settled Australia much like they did Georgia, by sending prisoners to start the colony. In fact, it was because Georgia was no longer available that Britain began transporting prisoners to Australia. This book uses the story of one of the women sent to Australia after her death was commuted to transportation. It was decided that the male prisoners would need women if they were to start a colony. Prostitutes and common criminals were sent and inasmuch as it was a time of poverty and ...more
Sandra Strange
This book reads like fiction—modern fiction. However, it’s really the true story of a woman from the lower classes of England who drifts into bad company, is convicted of highway robbery (remarkable in itself) and sentenced to imprisonment and exile. Her amazing story includes nightmarish ship adventures, exile in Australia, inhuman suffering in the remote penal colony, and a risky escape by sea to Timor, topped by another nightmarish ship voyage back to England. The subject matter is definitely ...more
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
I felt like this book couldn't decide if it wanted to read like fiction or like non-fiction. It missed the mark of that breed of non-fiction that captures our attention like a novel. Mary Bryant certainly had a fascinating life, but for non-fiction, I found it to be remarkably uninformative. The author lays out the events of Mary's life with very few references to greater political/historical events that might have impacted her. It's really just a narrative - she got arrested; sentenced; deporte ...more
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The amazing true story of Mary Bryant, whose impoverished childhood in 18-century Cornwall led first to a life of outlaw daring, then when she was caught, to harsh imprisonment and exile in New South Wales, Australia. There she endured inhumane conditions at the penal colony, and made a risky escape, sailing 3,300 miles in a 20-foot longboat, with her husband, two small children and 6 other men, to the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), only to be betrayed and sent back to England. And what met her ...more
Sep 09, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A true story that describes the penal colony that Britain set up in New South Wales and the inhuman conditions in which the prisoners were transported and had to live through once they arrived. Mary Broad Bryant was convicted to die after she was caught robbing another woman. One of several dozen women, she was sent to set up the new colony instead. The women were included mainly to satisfy the physical needs of the men, and a lot of this book was hard to read, but Mary's courage and tenacity th ...more
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An amazing account of the British penal settlement of Australia, which I've read as we approach Australia Day. No wonder generations of earlier Australians denied their convict-ancestry past - the squalor and degredation of convict life in 1780s Britain and Botany Bay was abysmal and appalling. Hundreds and hundreds died, and it's mind-blowing reading about the survival of convicts like Mary Bryant - how did they have the strength and fortitude to survive? Nowadays, people are proud to claim a c ...more
Lea Wait
Dec 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Erickson takes us back to places and times not too many of us are familiar with ... and introduces us to a young woman who was a survivor. She survived jail, horrific conditions on a variety of ships, and very primitive conditions in a new land where there was little food and she was one of few women. Erickson's research fills in the unknown details with logical guesses, and brings the period, and Mary Broad, alive ...very much enjoyed.
David Earle
Dec 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"The Girl From Botany Bay" by Carolly Erickson is one incredible book that blew me away! What a read! If you love factual stories about survival, struggle, and daring risks under the utmost harrowing inhumane circumstances, then you will surely love this book as much as I did. This epic story of Mary Bryant is one that I can strongly recommend for anyone who loves to read true accounts of courage, survival, and perseverance against all odds.
Janelle Jansson
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an absolutely fabulous tale of Mary Bryant, the girl from Botany Bay... She was arrested in the late 1700's for robbery, and was put on a ship for her punishment. This is the story of her journey, the good, the bad, and the terrible... So get lost with Mary, feel her joy, her sadness, and her excitement throughout her long journey as a female prisoner.
Carole Sojka
Feb 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is historical nonfiction. Telling the story of the first convicts sent to Australia in the 1780's from the point of view of one young woman lends interest and immediacy to a story with which I was unfamiliar. The hardships and the courage with which she faced them are fascinating. I enjoyed the book a lot, as did the other members of my book group.
Sep 20, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting topic, but it would have been waaaaay better as a novel. Tempting to take this story and write a novel about it. Does that somehow count as plagarism? If you just steal the plot? You know, and all the relevant details?
Very interesting. I knew that Australia was settled in large part by the convicts sent from Mother England, but I didn't realize what the conditions were really like on the ships. I guess I should have known. I found it interesting and enjoyed it. Her heartbreak could be felt.
Oct 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like this author.
The books are all bases on true history and are very interesting stories not dry facts.

I have read a number of Carolly Erickson books and have loved them all..I have a few to be read yet as yet.

May 23, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
This sounded like a great real-life historical story but after reading about 75 pages I just couldn't stomach anymore. I didn't want to read anymore about how horribly these female convicts acted and were treated. I mean, these people had no morals whatsoever. Ick.
Jun 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of those non-fictions that reads like fiction. A bit lightweight, but likeable, easy to digest and very interesting. Good use of endnotes, detailed and informative.
Jul 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
what a story. I fell in love with the mini series 'The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant'. While the book debunked the romance, the 'true grit' remains.
Feb 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
What a great unknown story. Ballsy chick is all that I can say!
May 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very interesting tale of one of the first women sent to the penal colony in Australia. Highly recommended.
Ultimately unsatisfying. Mostly speculation, little hard information.
Oct 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic read !!
Nov 24, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-hiatus
I messed around and only finished half of this before the due date, but I found the first half interesting enough that I'll try to check it out and finish it one of these days.
Mar 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If only our schools knew
How to make history this interesting :-)
Valerie McEnroe
rated it really liked it
Aug 11, 2014
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Madison Mega-Mara...: the girl from botany bay 1 4 Feb 22, 2012 11:50AM  
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Distinguished historian Carolly Erickson is the author of The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette, The First Elizabeth, Great Catherine, Alexandra and many other prize-winning works of fiction and nonfiction. She lives in Hawaii.
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