In the desert I saw a creature, naked, bestial, Who, squatting upon the ground, Held his heart in his hands, And ate of it. I said: “Is it good, friend?” “It is bitter-bitter,” he answered; “But I like it Because it is bitter, And because it is my heart.” Stephen Crane


The ship thieves : [the true tale of James Porter, colonial pirate] London : Aurum, 2006 Siân Rees Escapes  Australia  Tasmania  History  19th century, Porter, James, fl. 1823-1843 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. 336 p. : ill., maps, ports., ; 20 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG   

As dusk came down on the evening of the 13th of January 1834, James Porter and nine other convicts, transported at His Majesty’s Pleasure to Van Diemen’s Land, captured the newly launched barque the Frederick from their British masters. James Porter had spent the majority of his days since transportation planning how he would escape.

Though he had mastered the art of fleeing his captors, he had not ever managed to stay free for long. The men decided to make their way to Valdivia, on the coast of Chile. Six thousand miles away on the other side of the Pacific, surely they could evade the British and assume new identities as shipwrecked mariners? But the might of the British Empire was not to take the piracy and escape of ten convicts lightly and after surviving the perilous journey (an amazing feat of seamanship) and starting a new life in a small town, James Porter’s freedom was cruelly snatched away.

Porter was again transported to Australia. Eventually, after further attempts to escape he ended up on Norfolk Island. On the island many a convict’s spirit was broken but the tenacious attitude of James Porter survived.

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