In Ireland in 1795, young housemaid Elizabeth is arrested and charged with sedition.
On the transport ship, confined to the captain’s cabin, Elizabeth must please and obey. As the captain’s ship wife, she survives one of the most notorious transportation voyages to New South Wales. Six convicts are flogged to death. This so exceeds the usual brutality of transportation that Governor Hunter convenes a magistrates’ court to hear charges against the captain.
Shunned by her fellow convicts, scorned by free settlers, and pregnant with the captain’s child, Elizabeth must establish a home and a life in the rough town of Sydney.
The Ship Wife challenges assumptions about female convict history. It tells the story of a real woman’s struggle for dignity and independence in an Empire built on slavery and injustice.