‘The Slaughterman of Wagga Wagga’: Imposture, National Identity, and the Tichborne Affair
The first half of this essay uses the trials to examine English discourses about Australian identity in the late nineteenth century, and it considers how the Claimant's refusal to comply with the courtroom demand for a self-explanatory narrative exposed the precariousness of the distinctions that were said to differentiate nineteenth-century upper-class English identities from their colonial counterparts. The second half of the paper considers how—and to what effect—the trope of imposture was recuperated in three late nineteenth and early twentieth-century texts: Judge Edward Parry's Vagabonds All, Marcus Clarke's For the Term of His Natural Life, and Joseph Furphy's Such Is Life. I have chosen these three texts because of their common interest in and their very different approaches to interrogating the ways in which imperial and colonial identities were produced through the trope of imposture.
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