Caroline Leakey, writing as Oline Keese, published her first and only novel, The Broad Arrow, in 1859. It tells the story of Maida Gwynnham, a young middleclass woman lured into committing a forgery by her deceitful lover, Captain Norwell, and then wrongly convicted of infanticide. The novel's title describes the arrow that was stamped onto government property, including the clothes worn by convicts - a symbol of shame and incarceration. With its 'fallen woman' protagonist, its gothic undertones and its exploration of the social and moral implications of the penal system, this little-known novel gives an insight into a significant chapter of Australian history from a uniquely female perspective.
In this new critical edition, editor Jenna Mead restores material that was cut for a radically abridged version in 1886, restoring for the first time in over a century the complete original text of Leakey's important work.