Janeen Ann O'Connell


About Janeen

I'm a retired secondary teacher of English and Humanities and have been researching the murky convict past of my family tree for many years.

The history was very well hidden by preceding generations, even with older family members vehemently denying any convict connections.

I live in a suburb of Melbourne with my husband and our miniature poodle, Teddy. I have five grandchildren.


One respected citizen in 1872, who no doubt didn’t expect to die at forty-two, James Darby, left his pregnant wife with five children eleven and under, and debts of eight hundred and eighty seven pounds.

The other unexpected death in 1873 of James Allan, forty-three, left another pregnant widow with eight children, but at least she had a viable farm to support the family


The offspring of these two men and their widows forged dynasties which lurched into the 21st century. Some family members made indelible and lasting impressions on society, and others left legacies recognised well into the next century.


The story of the Allan and Darby families spans the Victorian Gold Rush through to the First World War, and is encapsulated through the eyes of those who lived it.

My short story about James Allan’s death as told by his wife Mary Allan, is in the latest edition of Swinburne’s journal "Backstory."


Empty Beds is also featured in the Kyabram Writers’ Group International Women’s Day 2021 publication: Celebrating Women.


Publications & Awards

2022 SPARX Publication

Society of Women Writers’ Victoria


2019 First Prize

City of Melton Libraries

Short Story Competition


2019 First Prize

Chill With A Book Readers’ Award


2018 First Prize

Chill With A Book Readers' Award


I acknowledge the Wurundjeri and Wathaurong people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land and waterways on which I live, and pay my respects to Elders past and present.

© Copyright 2023. Janeen Ann O'Connell. All rights reserved.