Sunday, 26 February 2023

What happened to Ebony Makepeace? A new romance for our long-suffering heroine

 The beginning of my new story: Copyright: Janeen Ann O'Connell

In the outside world, six months goes by quickly. In prison, it drags, especially when no one visits. But Ebony Makepeace had been patient. There wasn’t much choice. She was even used to being called Sherryn Forbes, which was legally her name. Many moons ago, Ebony Makepeace led a normal life: she had a flat in an inner city suburb close to everything she needed, she had a couple of very dear friends, and an established career as a fiction writer. Then one day when she sat in her favourite cafĂ© drinking her favourite coffee, minding her own business, he walked in and sat opposite her. He said he had been ordered to kill her, but couldn’t bring himself to do it. However to appease those who gave the orders, he had to at least shoot her. His name was Bradley Culley, and he became the bane of her existence.

Saturday, 7 January 2023

The biography marches on

Hi there. Welcome to 2023.

This year I am going to finish the biography of my great, great uncle Sir William George McBeath.  I didn’t work on it much in 2022 because I was consumed with a mystery series I was working on.  Great, great uncle William now has my undivided attention.

 Even though I had completed years of research, when I wrote the third book in the Cullen/bartlett family saga, “Time Tells All”, there were things I didn’t know. Fortunately contact with third cousins – via of all things, Ancestry – has given me access to more information. I knew my great, great grandfather, David Francis McBeth (McBeath) – William’s father – had drowned in the Maitai River in Nelson New Zealand, but I wasn’t aware of the tragic circumstances that saw young ten-year-old William witness his father’s death. One can only wonder about the resilience of a young man who loses his father this way, but then goes on to be an astute businessman and clever political influencer.

One aspect of young William’s life that has raised differences of opinion, is his education. In Who’s Who of Australia (1927) the entry records William as being educated at Nelson College in New Zealand. Research into the College reveals it was a secondary school, which accommodated boarders. William’s mother left New Zealand and returned to Melbourne soon after his father’s death. For William to have been education at Nelson College, he would have remained in New Zealand.  He is not listed on the passenger list with his mother and siblings, on their return to Melbourne. I have it from a very reliable source, that Who’s Who of Australia interviewed the person whose entry went into the book. So William must have told the editors where he was educated. I did contact Nelson College, but of course the records relating to the time he would have attended the school, were lost in a fire in 1904.

 The family story is that William sold newspapers on the family’s return to Melbourne, to help his mother financially. But that does not seem likely. David Francis McBeath had a five hundred pound life assurance policy which named Elizabeth as beneficiary.

Friday, 22 April 2022

The art of story telling

This is part of a piece from the Bacchus Marsh Express, Saturday 23rd April 1892. Applicable, seeing as today is Saturday, 23rd April :) The house mentioned in the article, is the one in the picture. It was burnt down (deliberately by vandals) in the 1990s.)

"To return from this digression. Having arrived

at the now thoroughly appointed Rockbank homesteading the query was put to a man working in the garden "Is Mr. Mitchel at home?" to which question receiving an affirmative …Making my way to a commodious brick building of very elegant exterior, partaking of the dual character of villa and mansion, I stepped across a spacious verandah and put the knocker into requisition. In a brief space the door was answered by the Manager in person, but as I have never arrived at the dignity of pasteboard the introduction had to be a verbal one. Knowing the power of the fourth estate I supplemented it with "I am Ramrod, of the Express, and have come to ask permission for a day's shooting." Receiving a cordial invitation to enter, I was piloted down a wide, handsome, delightfully cool hall to the office, a large room replete with every clerical appliance. Before we were well seated, Mr. Mitchel, with the hospitality characteristic of the old" pastoral era, said "have you had breakfast ?" a query which elicited the reply "yes, thank you." 

...and I was delighted to find that the frank unassuming man that sat before me was one of those geniuses that we do not meet with every day."


I will be speaking of "Mr Mitchel" at 2pm on 30th April at Melton Library, for the Heritage Festival.

What happened to Ebony Makepeace? A new romance for our long-suffering heroine

 The beginning of my new story: Copyright: Janeen Ann O'Connell In the outside world, six months goes by quickly. In prison, it drags,...