The indefatigable zeal of Robert McNally: The memoir of a soldier in Van Diemen’s Land in the 1820s
Very occasionally a historian strikes ‘archive gold’. By chance Pam Sharpe came upon the damaged diary/memoir of Private Robert McNally in the National Library of Ireland. Documents describing Van Diemen’s Land from a non-official point of view are rare and as far as she was able to discern McNally’s account had not been known about or used by a researcher until now. In so far as this large document is comprehensible and in one piece, McNally has provided us with a very individual and candid view of being a soldier in the bush in the years that preceded the Black War.
Pam Sharpe was the first female Professor in History at the University of Tasmania and the first woman nominated to the Australian Academy of the Humanities from Tasmania. A graduate of Edinburgh and Cambridge Universities, she has a background in British social and economic history which she taught at Bristol University, UK but has recently turned her attention to Van Diemen’s Land. She has previously researched working class writing in early nineteenth-century Britain hence her interest in Robert McNally’s diary/memoir.