What does the cover of Meet Ned Kelly tell you about the book?
- Who do you think the book is about?
- Who is the author?
- Who is the illustrator?
- Does the back cover give you more clues about the book?
- Does the back-cover blurb explain why the figure on the front cover is wearing an iron helmet?
- Where do you think the book is set?
- What time period do you think the story is set in?
- Do you know what a bushranger is? List everything you know about bushrangers
and the times in which they lived.
A brief history of Ned Kelly from Penguin Publishers Teachers Support Kit
THE LIFE OF NED KELLY
Ned Kelly was born around 1854 in Beveridge, Victoria. Ned’s parents, John ‘Red’ Kelly and Ellen Kelly, were Irish immigrants and Ned was the second of their seven children.
When Ned was just twelve years old his father died and he was forced to quit school and help his mother on their farm. The family was very poor and they were often in trouble with the law. Ned believed the police and the wealthy landowners treated poor Irish immigrants like the Kellys unfairly.
By the time Ned was 14 he had been arrested twice. The first arrest was for an alleged assault on a Chinaman, and the second was for acting as an accomplice to the bushranger Harry Powers. Both charges were later dropped. The next year, however, Ned was sentenced to three years in gaol for receiving a stolen horse.
In April 1878, a police trooper went to the Kelly farm looking for Dan Kelly, who was suspected of cattle rustling. Dan managed to escape so the trooper arrested Ellen Kelly instead. In court the trooper claimed Ned had tried to shoot the trooper, even though it’s never been proven that Ned was even at the farm when the trooper went there. Ellen Kelly was sentenced to three years gaol and a reward of £100 each was put out for the capture of Ned and Dan Kelly.
Ned and Dan went into hiding in the bush and were later joined by two friends, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart. Six months later, in October 1878, three policeman were killed
in a shootout at Stringybark Creek between the Kelly gang and the police. The gang were now declared outlaws by the authorities. A reward of £500 was offered for the capture of each member of the gang, dead or alive.
In December 1878, the gang help up the bank at Euroa, and in February they also robbed the bank at Jerilderie. At Jerilderie Ned handed one of the tellers a letter which outlined his justifications for his acts. This letter is now known as The Jerilderie Letter.
The gang wandered free for the next couple of years, relying on the help of friends to avoid the police and stay alive. In June 1880 the gang shot a man named Aaron Sherritt when they discovered he had betrayed them. The gang knew Sherritt’s murder would put the police on their trail. The gang made a plan to intercept and derail a train full of troopers that was on its way to Glenrowan.
After pulling up the train tracks at Glenrowan, the Gang took possession of the Glenrowan, holding the patrons hostage as they waited for the police train to head into their trap. But a hostage managed to talk Ned into letting him go free by telling him he had to get to his sick wife. The hostage managed to flag down the police train and warn them of the trap.
The police surrounded the inn and a shootout began. The gang wore metal armour, made from old farm equipment, that protected their heads and torsos, but made it difficult for them to move. Dan, Joe and Steve were killed in the battle, and at 5 am in the morning Ned was shot in the leg and captured.
In October 1880 Ned was tried for the murder of the police officer at Stringybark Creek and found guilty. He was sentenced to death and was hanged in the old Melbourne Gaol on 11 November. He was only twenty-five years old.
Is Ned Killer a Hero or a Villain?
Do you think Ned Kelly is a hero or a villain?