The Fiery Outlaw: Incendiarism and the Tarnishing of a Bushranging Folk Hero

Grace Moore


This essay examines the significance of fire in fashioning myths surrounding Ned Kelly and his gang. Beginning with an analysis of the role of fire in Francis Hare’s memoir The Last of the Bushrangers, the paper considers the importance of the absent fire, both for the Kelly gang and their would-be captors during the months leading up to the Siege at Glenrowan in June 1880.

Arguing that fire takes on symbolic as well as practical properties, the piece considers sensational re-tellings of the Kelly Gang’s final showdown. It also addresses the ways in which the burning of the Glenrowan Hotel became a spectacle when it was represented in the media and in fictional accounts.


Emotions; Bushrangers;

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