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Photographs supplied by Arthur Garland

A monument commemorates Henry Savery who was a convict, and credited as the first novelist in Australia.

He was norn in Somerset, England into the family of a rich banker.  His attempts to earn a living were unsuccessful, a sugar-refining business being declared bankrupt in 1819 and proprietorship of the newspaper The Bristol Observer lasting only a little over two years. 

Probably because he could not admit having overextended the sugar firm's commitments to his partner, he began trading in forged bills of credit which eventually amounted to over £30,000.  On 2 April 1825 he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to hang on the 22nd of the same month but through influential friends this was commuted to transportation, only a day before his execution was due. 

Afterr arriving in Hobart he was retained in government service and worked for the Colonial Treasurer, an appointment which raised a few eyebrows.   In 1828 his wife and son came to the colony and arguments between them culminated in his attempted suicide.  Soon after he was imprisoned for debt and Eliza took their son back England within three months. This was the last they were to see of each other.

In prison he wrote a series of sketches of activities and personages in the colony.  These were published in the Colonial Times and, after settling a libel suit, collected in the book The Hermit of Van Diemen's Land (1829). This occurred under the pseudonym 'Simon Stukeley' as a convict could be sent to the far worse Macquarie Harbour for being published.

He wrote his novel during his assignment to the household of Major Hugh Macintosh, one of the two founders of Cascade Brewery. He was given permission to reside at Major Macintosh's Lawn Farm on the banks of the Derwent River, about 6 kilometres down stream from New Norfolk, on the condition that he not carry on his own business. Macintosh and Savery appeared to have established a friendship prior to his assignment and Savery was soon managing Lawn Farm for Macintosh, whilst also being given time to write Quintus Servinton.   After Macintosh's death in December 1834 Savery remained at Lawn farm as manager for at least another four years.

At any event Quintus Servinton: A Tale founded upon Incidents of Real Occurrence was published anonymously in 1831 to reasonably good reviews from the colonial press.   His authorship became a public secret and was even mentioned in a reference for hi ticket of leave which was granted in 1832.   His freedom was quickly revoked because of his writing, in this case for the paper The Tasmanian. 

He fell into debt again and possibly alcoholism. By 1839 he was refused a convict servant. Towards the end of 1840 he was caught at his old tricks and charged with forging bills.  He was imprisoned at Port Arthur where, early in 1842, he died possibly after slitting his own throat. He was buried on the Isle of the Dead just off the coast of the prison. 





Address:Port Arthur Historic Site, Isle of the Dead, Port Arthur, 7182
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -43.149487
Long: 147.867447
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event STart Date:
Actual Event End Date:


Front Inscription

In memory of Henry Savery

Australia`s first novelist

Businessman, forger, convict and author.

Born 4th August 1791 Somerset, England

Died 6th February 1842 Port Arthur , Tasmania

1825 transported to Van Diemen`s Land for forgery

1830 released and his novel, Quintus Servinton published

1840 arrested again for forgery and sent to Port Arthur.

1842 died, possibly from a stroke

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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