A Literary Fortune: Sex, Lies and Bushrangers
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A paper by another Margin contributor was by Megan Brown of Wollongong University whose paper was entitled 'A Literary Fortune: Sex, Lies and Bushrangers'. Unfortunately I could not go to listen to Megan's paper because I was giving my own paper on John Lang at the same time. In some ways bushranging has had the ultimate masculine appeal. Megan quotes from Mary Fortune's 'Bushranger's Autobiography' of 1872. 'A bushranger bush·rang·er n. 1. One who lives in the wilderness. 2. Australian An outlaw living in the bush. is one who is brave enough to set the D*** laws at defiance and take his own rights in the world.' Megan goes on to ask: 'What if that man is cross-dressed as a woman?' As she says: 'Fortune often uses cross-dressing in many of her fictional accounts of colonial Australia'. Mary Fortune who wrote mainly for the Australian Journal before 1880 focused on bushrangers bushrangers, bandits who terrorized the bush country of Australia in the 19th cent. The first bushrangers (c.1806–44) were mainly escaped convicts who fled to the bush and organized gangs. . The characters she described subverted the almost exclusively masculine accounts of bushranging familiar to modern readers and presupposes a complexity of gender identity that historical accounts rarely recognise.
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