Item #5000914 The Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux, Written by himself. James Hardy VAUX.
The Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux, Written by himself.
The Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux, Written by himself.

The Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux…
The Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux, Written by himself.

London: Printed by W. Clowes, 1819.

Two volumes, duodecimo; a fine and large copy, half-titles discarded, edges uncut, in an attractive early binding by Morrell of half polished calf, spines gilt with double labels.

Criminal memoirs and flash language

The first full length autobiography written in Australia, and an uncensored picture of criminal life in London and the convict system in Australia.

The first full length autobiography written in Australia, and an uncensored picture of criminal life in London and the convict system in Australia.

Vaux was sentenced to transportation at the age of eighteen in 1800, and eventually returned to London as a free man in 1807, on the same ship as Marsden and Governor King, who employed him as an official secretary. Nevertheless, he ended up back in Sydney as a convict in 1810. After more trouble in the colony he was sent to Newcastle, where he completed a slang dictionary for the use of magistrates. Judge Barron Field edited his memoirs and arranged for their publication in this form, with a preface and including (as 81 pages in the second volume) Vaux's "New and Comprehensive Vocabulary of the Flash Language".

A contemporary English magazine described the work as "one of the most singular that ever issued from the press". Vaux was still leading a life of crime when he was last heard of in Sydney in 1841. An abridged edition of his book was published in 1827, and later editions appeared in 1829 and 1830.

A good piece by Stephanie Ryan on Vaux's very mixed life appears online at www.slq.qld.gov.au/blog/colourful-convict-and-moreton-bay-james-hardy-vaux.

Provenance: From the superb collection of Henry L. White (with his Belltrees bookplates); probably bought from A.H. Spencer in Melbourne (with his booktickets); binder's stamp of Morrell in both volumes.

Ferguson, 770.

Price (AUD): $4,350.00

US$2,825.58   Other currencies

Ref: #5000914