The Australian Bushrangers series by librarian and historical researcher, Jane Smith, details the colourful lives of six of Australia’s most famous bushrangers of the gold rush era: Captain Thunderbolt, Captain Moonlite, Frank Gardiner,
The fifth book in the series features the two men know as “Captain Starlight”. .Both were bushrangers who travelled widely across the country in the second half of the nineteenth century, and although their backgrounds and their crimes differed greatly, they are linked by their connection with a character from a novel.
Frank Pearson was the first “Starlight” who burst onto the scene in 1868, when he abandoned his practice as a doctor, stole a horse and took off on a bushranging spree that ended in a shoot-out and the death of a policeman. Pearson was a very talented man: intelligent, well-educated and well-read, and a clever artist and composer. He was also a pathological liar with no moral compass whatsoever. The intriguing thing about him is that we know nothing about his first thirty years. He had so many aliases that we don’t even know what his real name was.
The other was Henry Readford, whose stunning theft of 1000 cattle was the inspiration for the fictional character “Captain Starlight” in Rolf Boldrewood’s novel Robbery under arms. This book is full of fascinating facts and legendary exploits as it explores the lives of both of the bushrangers known for very different reasons. With reference to newspapers, gaol records, police records and other primary sources it narrates the captivating stories of their crimes, their lives, their imprisonments and their ultimately their deaths.