Shortlist year: 2009

Shortlist category: Non-fiction

Published by: Black Inc

Almost half of the convicts who came to Australia came to Van Diemen’s Land. There they found a land of bounty and a penal society, a kangaroo economy and a new way of life.

In this book, James Boyce shows how the convicts were changed by the natural world they encountered. Escaping authority, they soon settled away from the towns, dressing in kangaroo skin and living off the land. Behind the official attempt to create a Little England was another story of adaptation, in which the poor, the exiled and the criminal made a new home in a strange land.

This is their story, the story of Van Diemen’s Land.

About the author

James Boyce

James Boyce is the author of Born Bad (2014), 1835 (2011) and Van Diemen's Land (2008).

Van Diemen’s Land, won the Tasmania Book Prize and the Colin Roderick Award and was shortlisted for the NSW, Victorian and Queensland premiers’ literary awards, as well as the Prime Minister’s award. Tim Flannery described it as “a brilliant book and a must-read for anyone interested in how land shapes people.”

1835, won the Age Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Award, the Western Australian Premier's Book Award, the Adelaide Festival Award for Literature and the Victorian Premier's Literary Award. The Sunday Age described it as “A first-class piece of historical writing”. James Boyce wrote the Tasmania chapter for First Australians, the companion book to the acclaimed SBS TV series.

He has a PhD from the University of Tasmania, where he is an honorary research associate of the School of Geography and Environmental Studies.