In first place came Michael Flynn’s The Second Fleet: Britain’s Grim Convict Armada of 1790 (Library of Australian History, 1993), a tremendous feat of meticulous research into more than 1,500 individuals who were on board the tragic Second Fleet.
It remains a seminal work. It’s also now out of print, but check with your local library, which might have a copy you can borrow, or organise an inter-library loan for you. Click here to find a copy at your library on Trove.
“Many thanks to the readership of Inside History for their support,” says Michael. “Revised versions of the First and Second Fleet books are ongoing, assisted by feedback from some of the thousands of descendants of these early colonists. Coming soon: a website with updates and information to be called Botany Bay Bound.” Stay tuned, we’ll bring you more news soon!
As for second place?
Two runners-up tied equally for silver. The Convict Ships 1787-1868 (first published by Brown, Son and Ferguson, 1959), by Charles Bateson, is an authoritative guide to Australia’s period of convict transportation.
In Her Own Words: The Writings of Elizabeth Macquarie" (Exisle Publishing, 2011) by Robin Walsh is an important recent work.
As a compilation of personal records, diaries and letters written by Elizabeth Macquarie, it offers fascinating insights into two figures who helped shape the early colony.
Though our list is by no means definitive, we’d like to thank everyone who voted. We enjoyed your suggestions, and even managed to add a few books to our must-read list — hopefully you have, too.