The ambitions of Jane Franklin by Alison Alexander has just been announced as the winner of the 2014 National Biography Award. Jane Franklin was a writer, traveller and the wife of Tasmanian governor and Arctic explorer, John Franklin. She was a feisty, intelligent woman who was determined to get things done both for herself and her husband as a political leader in Tasmania. Alexander's biography of Jane is well-written and researched and the reader gets to know Jane as a woman to be reckoned with. The biography is astutely crafted showing Jane in her many roles; she was a product of her time and yet she resisted traditional gender roles and the expectations of young ladies.
Alison is a historian who is particularly interested in Tasmanian history. She has also written Tasmanian convicts: how felons built a free society. She is involved in numerous historical associations in Tasmania and when writing about Jane Franklin she really tried to understand what Jane was like. She was a puzzling woman; bossy, charming, gentle, intelligent. Alison even visited Jane's house in London and perused books from her reading list.
This a great book for readers who love biographies, Australian history, feminism, politics or Tasmanian history.