This essay examines books for children focusing on Ned Kelly and the Kelly gang, published from 2000 to 2011. Drawing upon theories of narrative, memory and nostalgia it analyses the narrative strategies and visual images through which these texts position readers, and their investment in formulations of the Australian nation. The essay argues that these books function as exercises in restorative nostalgia, producing palatable versions of Kelly as an Australian hero, and articulating connections between the Kelly legend and Australian national identity. By foregrounding Kelly's Irishness and by representing him as a “good badman”, these Ned Kelly narratives for children, which range across fiction, non-fiction, picture book and play script, reinscribe versions of national identity which occlude more complicated narratives. In particular, their emphasis on struggles between Irish and English settlers, and between selectors and squatters, displaces Indigenous histories, colonial violence, and systemic discrimination against those deemed outsiders to the nation.
Field of Research
200502 - Australian Literature (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Literature)
Socio Economic Objective
959999 - Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified