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Ned Kelly's mother comes to life in book

Author Noelene Allen will visit Benalla to promote her book titled Ellen - A Woman of Spirit.

January 28, 2013 4:46am

Author Noelene Allen will be visiting the Benalla Library on Wednesday, February 13 to promote her book about Ned Kelly's mother entitled "Ellen - A Woman of Spirit".


Nolene Allen’s book about Ned Kelly’s mother is starting to get plenty of attention and the successful first-time author will be speaking at the Benalla Library, much to the delight of local literature lovers.

The Ensign managed to catch up with Mrs Allen while she was on holiday in Tamworth, Queensland, to see what inspired her to write the book and how it had been received since it was released late last year.

‘‘I was working as the manager of the Beechworth Historic Court House more than 10 years ago now and that’s roughly when I started to become interested in the untold history of Ned Kelly’s mother Ellen Kelly,’’ she revealed.

‘‘I was able to find out little bit about her at the court house and just became really interested and wanted to know more about her life.

‘‘Once I had done some research; I starting giving talks at the court house and people seemed so fascinated by it, they said, ‘‘you should write a book’.’’

She also started conducting tours focusing on Ellen Kelly and the women of the Kelly family in Beechworth’s Historic Precinct.

These tours were hugely popular and saw her receive many invitations to speak to groups throughout Victoria.

‘‘It was around 2002 when I started doing some serious research and it took about 10 years to get all the information that I needed — the writing was the easy part, that only took about two years,’’ she said.

‘‘Luckily, there are still a lot of descendants of the Kelly family who I was able to interview and many of them were able to email me information.’’

According to Mrs Allen there was quite a bit of travel involved, but not too far afield from her home at Beechworth, since most of the Kelly relatives live in north-east Victoria — particularly between Wangaratta, Greta and Benalla.

‘‘We sold the first print run of 1000 in the first three months, which was just amazing,’’ she said.

The book, Ellen — A Woman of Spirit, was officially released on July 31 last year at Melbourne’s St Francis Church, which is where Ellen Kelly got married.

She said the most heart-wrenching moment in the life of Ellen Kelly is when her son Ned was hanged.

‘‘She was actually there in the jail on the day when Ned was hanged,’’ Mrs Allen said.

‘‘The proximity of the prison laundry (where she was) to the gallows, where he was hanged for his crimes, really gave me the shivers!’’

You can hear Nolene Allen speak about the making of the book at the Benalla Library from 5pm on Wednesday, February 13.

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