Black Jack Anderson has resurfaced

Elaine Forrestal and Premier Alan Carpenter at the launch of Black Jack Anderson

Having thought that Black Jack Anderson had sailed away for good, here he is again! True to form, I must admit, since he has a habit of disappearing ‘with the speed of the westerly breeze’ and lying low somewhere for long periods of time.

After an article was written about him in 1846, he managed to drop out of sight until the 1950s. During the late 1950s and early 1960s several articles about him were published in newspapers and the book, Esperance, Yesterday and Today. But our elusive pirate escaped again until I discovered him lurking in the Fremantle Maritime Museum’s whaling exhibit. He obviously thought he was safe from discovery with only the briefest of mentions on an obscure video recording of stories from the long abandoned Cheynes Beach Whaling Station, but I was on to him. I pursued him through the archives of the Battye Library and the Albany Courthouse Records. I even made the 3 hour boat trip from Esperance to Middle Island to see where he and his crew of pirates had had their hideout in the 1820s and 30s.

It was not until 2008 that my  book, Black Jack Anderson, was launched by the then Premier of Western Australia, Alan Carpenter. A flurry of activities followed. The reviews came in thick and fast and I did an author tour, speaking in Adelaide and Melbourne initially, then in lots of places in Western Australia. In 2013 his story was produced on stage as part of the Festival of the Wind in Esperance. Directed by Luke Robson, students from Esperance Senior High School played all the characters while I narrated the story using excerpts from the original Penguin edition of the book.

Three years have elapsed since then and, although I have presented workshops in schools, Black Jack Anderson has been pretty quiet. However, he has now been rediscovered by two young film-makers and we have high hopes of flushing him out of hiding once more, so that we can tell his remarkable story to a new audience.

Fingers crossed.

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