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Van Diemen's Land was the original name used by Europeans for the island of Tasmaniamarker, now part of Australia. The Dutchmarker explorer Abel Tasman was the first European to explore Tasmania. He named the island Anthoonij van Diemenslandt in honour of Anthony van Diemen, Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies who had sent Tasman on his voyage of discovery in 1642.

In 1803, the island was colonised by the British as a penal colony with the name Van Diemen's Land, and became part of the British colony of New South Walesmarker. In 1824, Van Diemen's Land became a colony in its own right. In 1856 the colony was granted responsible self-government with its own representative parliament, and the name of the island and colony was changed to Tasmaniamarker.

Penal colony



From the 1830s to the abolition of penal transportation (known simply as "transportation") in 1853, Van Diemen's Land was the primary penal colony in Australia. Following the suspension of transportation to New South Walesmarker, all transported convicts were sent to Van Diemen's Land. In total, some 75,000 convicts were transported to Van Diemen's Land, or about 40% of all convicts sent to Australia.

Male convicts served their sentences as assigned labour to free settlers or in gangs assigned to public works. Only the most difficult convicts were sent to the Tasman Peninsula prison known as Port Arthurmarker, mostly re-offenders.

Female convicts were assigned as servants in free settler households or sent to a female factory (women's workhouse prison). There were five female factories in Van Diemen's Land.

Convicts completing their sentences or earning their ticket-of-leave often promptly left Van Diemen's Land. Many settled in the new free colony of Victoriamarker, to the disgust of the free settlers in towns such as Melbournemarker.

Tensions sometimes ran high between the settlers and the "Vandemonians" as they were termed, particularly during the Victorian gold rush when a flood of settlers from Van Diemen's Land rushed to the Victorian gold fields.

Complaints from Victorians about recently released convicts from Van Diemen's Land re-offending in Victoria was one of the contributing reasons for the eventual abolition of transportation to Van Diemen's Land in 1853 .

The name

Anthony Trollope used the term Vandemonian : -
They are (the Vandemonians) united in their declaration that the cessation of the coming of convicts has been their ruin


Eventually, in order to remove the unsavoury connotations with crime associated with its name (and its homophonic connection to "demon"), in 1856 Van Diemen's Land was renamed Tasmania in honour of Abel Tasman. The last penal settlement in Tasmania at Port Arthurmarker finally closed in 1877.

The term is not used much, but in a review of a new book of the era the Australian newspaper chose the title of the review as Vandemonian vanity

Popular culture

Film



Music



Literature

  • Van Diemen's Land is the setting of Gould's Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish by Richard Flanagan (published 2002), which tells the story of a man who is transported to the island, and runs afoul of the local (and rather insane) authorities.
  • Brendan Whiting's book Victims of Tyranny, gives an account of the lives of the Irish rebels, the Fitzgerald convict brothers who were sent to help open up the north of Van Diemen's Land in 1805, under the leadership of the explorer Colonel William Paterson.
  • In Cormac McCarthy's novel Blood Meridian, one of the characters in the Glanton Gang of scalpers in 1850s Mexicomarker is a "Vandiemenlander" named Bathcat. Born in Walesmarker he later went to Australia to hunt aborigines, and eventually came to Mexico, where he used those skills on the Apaches.
  • Van Diemen's Land is mentioned in Edgar Allan Poe's book Narrative of A. Gordon Pym. The main character stops at this island on his way to the South Pole.
  • Van Diemen's Land is mentioned in Umberto Eco's novel "The Island of the Day Before" ("L'isola del giorno prima", 1994), a story about a 17th century Italian nobleman trapped at an island at the International Date Linemarker.
  • Van Diemen's Land is mentioned in Emily Dickinson's "If You Were Coming in the Fall"
  • From "The Potato Factory" by Bryce Courtenay (1995): "... subtracting till my fingers dropped; into Van Diemen's Land." This is a quote from Emily Dickinson's Poem "If You Were Coming In The Fall".
  • In Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726), the country of Lilliput is described as being “to the north-west of Van Dieman's Land” [sic].
  • In the novel The Convicts by Iain Lawrence, young Tom Tin is sent to Van Diemen's Land on charges of murder
  • Van Dieman's Land is mentioned in James De Mille's A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder. The manuscript spoken of in the title has been written by British sailor who lost his way after conveying convicts to Van Dieman's Land.
  • In the novel The Terror by Dan Simmons (2007). In this novel about the ill fated exploration by HMS Erebus and HMS Terror to discover the Northwest Passage. The ships left England in May 1846 and were never heard from again, although since then much has been discovered about the fate of the 129 officers and crew. References are made to Van Diemen's Land during the chapters devoted to Francis Crozier.
  • Van Dieman's Land is mentioned in Peter Carey's book, True History of the Kelly Gang, as a place the Kelly parents suffered on their way to the Colony of Victoriamarker.
  • Van Dieman's Land is the setting of the novel English Passengers by Matthew Kneale (2000), which tells the story of 3 eccentric English men who in 1857 set sail for the island in search of the Garden of Eden. The story runs parallel with the narrative of a young Tasmanian who tells the struggle of the indigenous population and the desperate battle against the invading British colonists.
  • Christopher Koch's novel : "Out of Ireland" describes life as a convict in Van Diemen's Land.
  • Richard Butler's novel "The Men That God Forgot" (1977) is based on the historical events of 10 convicts who escape from Van Dieman's Land to Valdiviamarker, Chilemarker in 1833.


See also



Notes



References

  • Alexander, Alison (editor) (2005)The Companion to Tasmanian HistoryCentre for Tasmanian Historical Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart. ISBN 186295223X.
  • Robson, L.L. (1983) A history of Tasmania. Volume 1. Van Diemen's Land from the earliest times to 1855Melbourne, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195543645.
  • Robson, L.L. (1991) A history of Tasmania. Volume II. Colony and state from 1856 to the 1980s Melbourne, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195530314.


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