History

The Original Gentleman Thief

 The first Australian celebrity, George Barrington (1755?–1804) harnessed the power of illusion to appear respectable and thus further his criminal career as a genteel pickpocket. It was a career that in the end was curtailed by the illusions of others seeking to exploit his notoriety, with Barrington himself obliged to reinvent himself as a senior colonial police officer in New South Wales. Though a neglected figure now, Barrington was one of the most famous people in late eighteenth-century Britain, and his fame had what publicists these days refer to as “the long tail”. Nearly a century after his arrival at…

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