For the Term of His Natural Life

Another great novel that inhabits the intersection of literature and history, For the Term of His Natural Life (1870s) provides a vivid account of the brutality that abounded in the early colonial history of Australian penal colonies. The novel follows Rufus Dawes, and portrays his life as a convict after he is found guilty of a murder he did not commit and is transported to a penal colony in 1827.

The novel humanizes Dawes struggle to persevere with dignity and honor in an unfair system and documents the complex and intricate interactions between those that hold power the people who suffer under their dominion.



Book I: The Sea. 1827

Chapter I: The Prison Ship

Chapter II: Sarah Purfoy

Chapter III: The Monotony Breaks

Chapter IV: The Hospital

Chapter V: The Barracoon

Chapter VI: The Fate of the "Hydaspes"

Chapter VII: Typhus Fever

Chapter VIII: A Dangerous Crisis

Chapter IX: Woman's Weapons

Chapter X: Eight Bells

Chapter XI: Discoveries and Confessions

Chapter XII: A Newspaper Paragraph

Book II: Macquarie Harbour. 1833

Chapter I: The Topography of Van Diemen's Land

Chapter II: The Solitary of "Hell's Gates"

Chapter III: A Social Evening

Chapter IV: The Bolter

Chapter V: Sylvia

Chapter VI: A Leap in the Dark

Chapter VII: The Last of Macquarie Harbour

Chapter VIII: The Power of the Wilderness

Chapter IX: The Seizure of the "Osprey"

Chapter X: John Rex's Revenge

Chapter XI: Left at "Hell's Gates"

Chapter XII: "Mr." Dawes

Chapter XIII: What the Seaweed Suggested

Chapter XIV: A Wonderful Day's Work

Chapter XV: The Coracle

Chapter XVI: The Writing on the Sand

Chapter XVII: At Sea

Book III: Port Arthur. 1838

Chapter I: A Labourer in the Vineyard

Chapter II: Sarah Purfoy's Request

Chapter III: The Story of Two Birds of Prey

Chapter IV: "The Notorious Dawes"

Chapter V: Maurice Frere's Good Angel

Chapter VI: Mr. Meekin Administers Consolation

Chapter VII: Rufus Dawes's Idyll

Chapter VIII: An Escape

Chapter IX: John Rex's Letter Home

Chapter X: What Became of the Mutineers of the "Osprey"

Chapter XI: A Relic of Macquarie Harbour

Chapter XII: At Port Arthur

Chapter XIII: The Commandant's Butler

Chapter XIV: Mr. North's Indisposition

Chapter XV: One Hundred Lashes

Chapter XVI: Kicking Against the Pricks

Chapter XVII: Captain and Mrs. Frere

Chapter XVIII: In the Hospital

Chapter XIX: The Consolations of Religion

Chapter XX: A Natural Penitentiary

Chapter XXI: A Visit of Inspection

Chapter XXII: Gathering in the Threads

Chapter XXIII: Running the Gauntlet

Chapter XXIV: In the Night

Chapter XXV: The Flight

Chapter XXVI: The Work of the Sea

Chapter XXVII: The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Book IV: Norfolk Island. 1846

Chapter I: Extracted from the Diary of the Rev. James North

Chapter II: The Lost Heir

Chapter III: Extracted from the Diary of the Rev. James North

Chapter IV: Extracted from the Diary of the Rev. James North

Chapter V: Mr. Richard Devine Surprised

Chapter VI: In Which the Chaplain Is Taken Ill

Chapter VII: Breaking a Man's Spirit

Chapter VIII: Extracted from the Diary of the Rev. James North

Chapter IX: The Longest Straw

Chapter X: A Meeting

Chapter XI: Extracted from the Diary of the Rev. James North

Chapter XII: The Strange Behaviour of Mr. North

Chapter XIII: Mr. North Speaks

Chapter XIV: Getting Ready for Sea

Chapter XV: The Discovery

Chapter XVI: Fifteen Hours

Chapter XVII: The Redemption

Chapter XVIII: The Cyclone



Return to Marcus Clarke's library.