PostHeaderIcon A Cargo of Women the Novel

A Cargo of Women: the novel

 First published by Pan Macmillan, Australia 1991  2nd edition 2010

 The success of A Cargo of Women: Susannah Watson and the convicts of the Princess Royal encouraged Babette Smith to explore the subject further in popular fiction.

 In 1991, A Cargo of Women: the novel took the story to a wider audience. The factual base behind  the fiction resulted in one critic hailing is as 'earthy and honest' and another commenting that 'Its  fidelity to history and the convincing picture it gives of the curious sisterhood which bound the  women convicts, puts it streets ahead of most...historical fiction today'.

 What they said
 Some purists were outraged by the decision to turn A Cargo of Women into a popular novel but the  book sold thousands of copies, its gold lettering and sexy, romantic cover selling particularly well at  airports. When she received a fan letter from a fifteen year old girl asking for more, Babette Smith  knew that she had succeeded in reaching an audience who would never have read 'history'.


Historian Professor Alan Atkinson found value in both versions of the book:    [Her] two books about convict women, one fact and one fiction and both called 'A Cargo of Women', are among the finest evocations of convict life to have been written in Australia - and that means anywhere.' Sydney Morning Herald