Author Michael Bailey weaves fact with fiction in new Ben Boyd novel

The Seahorse Inn at Boydtown was the first place Michael Bailey stayed when he and his wife moved to the Far South Coast and he became fascinated with the history of the place. Photo: Leah Szanto
The Seahorse Inn at Boydtown was the first place Michael Bailey stayed when he and his wife moved to the Far South Coast and he became fascinated with the history of the place. Photo: Leah Szanto

Blackbirder Benjamin Boyd is one of two main characters featured in a new novel by local resident Michael Bailey.

Informed partly by personal experience, the novel titled Lost to Two Worlds, is set across three continents and two centuries, juxtaposing a modern day character with the Scottish slaver.

"Boydtown was the first place I stayed in Australia, I was fascinated with the history of the place," Mr Bailey said.

"Boyd was an awful person. He came here 1842 and by 1847 he had become one of the richest people in Australia, and ended up fleeing the country."

The book is a combination of fiction and non-fiction, with Boyd woven into the story via the contrasting contemporary character Daniel Hannaford, a troubled retired mining engineer with a heavy conscience, who relocates to the Far South Coast area.

"There is a conflict between the way his life turned out and Ben Boyd's, who had a great life and got away with everything," Mr Bailey said.

In addition to the relevant local history, the story of the two very different men in different times also involves political corruption, romance and plenty of adventure.

The underlying message in Lost to Two Worlds is that life is hard and you may not succeed.

Author Michael Bailey said he was surprised the national park was still named after blackbirder Ben Boyd. Photo supplied.

Author Michael Bailey said he was surprised the national park was still named after blackbirder Ben Boyd. Photo supplied.

"I have tried to show in the book how Boyd is representative of a certain type of people, the majority of whom are self centred and want to get richer and richer," Mr Bailey said.

"If you look at that side of things versus Daniel, who has had a rough life and is very conflicted, carries a lot of guilt, but in essence is trying to be a good person. It's a balance between good and evil.

"Hard lives, illness, confusion, the way people are brought up - it's all a matter of luck. I wanted to point out there are people who do bad things and do very well in life, and conversely, there are good people who don't," Mr Bailey said.

The author is originally from the United Kingdom, has lived in both Canada and the Caribbean where he built and ran a small hotel for many years.

He and his Australian wife arrived in Australia in 2014 and lived in Sydney until 2017.

"It was the first time I had ever lived in a city, hence the reason I couldn't move to the South Coast quick enough!" Mr Bailey said.

The novel is available at the Seahorse in at Boydtown, or online via Ravello Publishing.

The novel is available at the Seahorse in at Boydtown, or online via Ravello Publishing.

The couple settled near Eden in 2017 and Mr Bailey took the opportunity to write again for the first time since his 20s.

He researched Boyd locally, read a few books and formed new connections by speaking to people in his pursuit for knowledge.

"I think the Boyd aspect will be of particular interest to locals. I am surprised the national park is still named after him," Mr Bailey said.

"It was a different world, they were different people, but he was a terrible guy. Despite that, I think the Boyd name has become synonymous with Eden and being an historic place for people to visit."

A limited quantity of Lost to Two Worlds has been printed, the book is being sold at Boydtown and online: https://www.ravellobooks.com/

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