‘What a life! What a story! Superbly researched and wonderfully crafted, this book makes a life long gone, live and breathe again. As one fascinated by the growth of the national identity, without ever realising how much Lang had to do with moulding it, I was surprised and enthralled by Doyle’s account.’ – Peter FitzSimons AM, bestselling history author, journalist, TV and radio presenter
Book #5 in the Shot of History Series
‘Writer, journalist, barrister, larrikin’
Who was the first Australian novelist?
John Lang, born in a Parramatta pub in 1816 with the convict ‘stain’ upon him, was a singular character. The first native-born person to have a novel published, he was also a newspaperman, a classical scholar and translator, barrister, celebrity, jailbird … enigma. He was hugely energetic, capable and original, but he also had his demons.
A larrikin polymath who refused to be bound by convention, Lang didn’t just want his allotted portion – he wanted all of it. He got a lot of it, too, but not the chalice of immortality.
Lang was a serial pioneer. In literature, he also wrote the first ‘detective novel’ in English, the first convict-system satire, the first Indian travelogue by an Australian, and he created the template for the bush novel. In journalism, he was the first Australian to launch and run a newspaper overseas. And in law, he was the only barrister to ever defeat the mighty East India Company in an Indian courtroom.
So why have we never heard of him?
This long-overdue biography explores answers to this revealing question as it tracks Lang’s rise from those humble beginnings to fortune and fleeting fame. Author Sean Doyle tells the riveting story of Lang’s remarkable life and times across three continents in the age of Empire, when the modern world was young …