Barry Dickins to Speak about Convicted Killer Ronald Ryan’s ‘Last Words’ | Goldfields Library Corporation

Barry Dickins to Speak about Convicted Killer Ronald Ryan’s ‘Last Words’

Tuesday 18 April 2017

Bendigo and Castlemaine Libraries are looking forward to welcoming acclaimed playwright and author Barry Dickins to present his new book, Last Words, a study of Australia’s last legal execution.

Ronald Ryan was the last person hanged in Australia, and fifty years on, Last Words explores his story in depth. Dickins’ account of the case is as much about Ryan as it is about the trauma his family endured.

In Last Words, Dickins also explores the political climate of the day. The death penalty had not been enforced in Victoria for twenty years, and many believed that Ryan's execution was to aid Victorian Premier Henry Bolte's election campaign. As a result, the decision to execute was met with protests from many community groups.

Forty-two year old Ryan was hanged at 8am on Friday 3 February, 1967, after being convicted of shooting prison guard George Hodson dead in Coburg’s Pentridge Prison during an escape attempt.

Right up until his final moments, Ryan maintained that he was innocent of murder. This caused great divide amongst the community and is one of the many aspects Dickins explores using lyrical prose full of horror and humour.

“We expect that Barry’s presentations will have a lasting, powerful impression on those who attend, as many people still remember the death of Ronald Ryan and the huge impact it had on the community and in the media at the time,” said Tammy Higgs, Goldfields Library Corporation Programs and Events Coordinator.

Barry Dickins will speak at Castlemaine Library on Thursday 25 May from 2-3pm, and at Bendigo Library on Thursday 25 May from 5:30-6:30pm.

Bookings are required and entry is free.

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