The Bushrangers

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Bushrangers as a theme in Australian culture

Bushrangers[1] were a feature of Australian life in the 19th century and a thus prominent in Australian writing. There have been a number of Australian plays on this theme and often using this name in the title.

Early plays about bushrangers include David Burn's The Bushrangers (1829), William Leman Rede's Faith and Falsehood, or The Fate of the Bushranger (1830), The Bushrangers, or Norwood Vale (1834) by Henry Melville and The Bushrangers, a Play in Five Acts, and Other Poems (1853) by Charles Harpur.

Plays about Bushrangers

The Bushrangers by David Burn (1799-1875)

Most writers date the indigenous drama from 1828, when David Burn (1799-1875) wrote his melodrama The Bushrangers . This was first staged at the Caledonian Theatre, Edinburgh in 1829.

Faith and Falsehood, or The Fate of the Bushranger by W. L. Rede (William Leman Rede, 1802-1847)[2]

A drama in three acts first performed and published in 1834.

For South African performances see Faith and Falsehood, or The Fate of the Bushranger.

The Bushrangers, or Norwood Vale by Henry Melville (1799-1873)

According to Wikipedia[3], The Bushrangers, or Norwood Vale was the first substantial play with an Australian theme to be written, published and performed in Australia. It examines honor and trust in the harsh Australian bush and the relationship between white settlers, the aboriginal people and the bushrangers and thus marked the earliest appearance of an actor in blackface in an Australian play.

First produced in an extended form at the Theatre Royal in the Argyle Rooms, Hobart, 29 May and 2 June 1834. Also produced at the Launceston Theatre, 1835. According to the website AustLit[4] there is no known published version from the time, only published version available is in the anthology of drama called Australian Plays for the Colonial Stage : 1834-1899 by Richard Fotheringham (editor), St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2006 (pp. 3-39).[5]

The Bushrangers: A Play in Five Acts by Charles Harpur (1813-1868)

Also known as The Bushrangers, or The Tregedy of Donohoe, the work was first published in 1853 in the volume The Bushrangers: A Play in Five Acts And Other Poems by W. R. Piddington, Sydney. The play, written in verse, was never produced.


John Gassner and Edward Quinn. 1969. The Reader's Encyclopedia of World Drama Reprinted in 2002 by the Courier Corporation[6]

"The Bushrangers, or Norwood Vale" in The AustLit website[7]

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