About the Author
Ellen Davitt (1812-1879) wrote for Australian Journal, her 1865 serial 'Force and Fraud' being the first known Australian mystery novel. It begins with a murder and ends with its solution, with red herrings, blackmail, and a dramatic court scene in between. Born in Yorkshire, Ellen married teacher Arthur Davitt, and emigrated to Australia in 1854. The pair were powerful figures in colonial education and Ellen was also a public lecturer and an exhibited artist. She is vilified in the Australian Dictionary of Biography as having "overbearing self-esteem" (translation: she was confident, a fighter, and not afraid of male authority). She died in poverty, of cancer.
In 1993 Sisters in Crime Australia placed a plaque on her grave; the same year Force and Fraud was reprinted by Mulini Press. The annual Davitt Award is named in her honour. It is awarded by Sisters in Crime for the best crime novel by an Australian woman published in book form in Australia in the previous year.