The convict-author Henry Savery (1791-1842) is known as the writer of the first Australian novel, Qtiintus Servinton (1830-1). He was, in addition, our first essayist. While he was imprisoned in 1829 he wrote the sketches of life and characters in Hobart and the countryside that comprise The Hermit in Van Diemen's Land. Thirty in all, they appeared in Andrew Bent's Colonial Times from 5 June to 25 December under the pen-name of'Simon Stukeley'. They were gathered together and published as a volume in 1830. The Preface acknowledges the title as a debt:
Perhaps it may be in the recollection of some portion of our readers, that a few years ago, a scries of numbers appeared in one of the London publications, under the title of 'The Hermit in London'. Wc have great pleasure in acquainting them, that a younger brother of this family has lately arrived in the Colony: and, having acquired, almost intuitively, considerable information upon the general state of Manners, Society, and Public Characters of our little community, has partially promised to adapt his observations to such a shape, as shall fit them to meet the eye of the Public.
It is not difficult to add to this. The full title of the earlier work ran: The Hermit in London; or Sketches of English Manners. Originally these appeared in The Literary Gazette (1819-20), and were later published in three volumes in 1821, containing 82 essays. Some are abstract and didactic treatments ('Killing Time', 'Economy'), some are anecdotes ('The Romance', 'NewInmates'), others are descriptions ('Hyde Park on a Sunday').