The Dickens Boy
(Audio disc / Other, Unabridged edition)
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The tenth child of Charles Dickens, Edward Bulwer Lytton Dickens, known as Plorn, had consistently proven unable 'to apply himself' to school or life. So he is sent, as his brother Alfred had been before him, at sixteen years of age, to Australia. This proving themselves exercise... was not to take place in the burgeoning cities of Melbourne or Sydney, but in outback NSW, learning to become men from the most diverse and toughest of men. Part of Dickens' motivation was to separate these younger of his children from the Dickens family schism, where Charles had expelled his wife from the family home, keeping her sister Georgie there to run the household, and taking up with the actress Ellen Tiernan. Plorn arrived in Melbourne in late 1868 carrying a terrible secret. He has never read a word of his father's work. He is sent out to become a gentleman stockman on a 2000 square mile station in remotest, semi-arid parts of NSW. Here he inevitably gets enmeshed with Paakantji, colonists, colonial-born, ex-convicts, ex-soldiers, and very few women. Plorn, unexpectedly, encounters the same veneration of his father and familiarity with his work in Australia that was rampant in England. Against this backdrop, and featuring cricket tournaments, horse-racing, bushrangers, sheep droving, shifty stock and station agents, frontier wars and first encounters with Australian women, Plorn, meets extraordinary people and enjoys wonderful adventures as he works to prove himself.