The Tweets of @HenrySavery

Originally a live writing piece by Christopher Currie and based on Quintus Servinton, an 1830 novel by Henry Savery, generally regarded as Australia’s first, this piece took place live on Twitter as Henry Savery—twice convicted forger, Australia’s first novelist, and ne’er-do-well about town—took up a digital residency at the 2015 Brisbane Writers Festival.

Via the handle @HenrySavery, the author made the long journey from Tasmania's Isle of the Dead thanks to his trusty horse, Richard Flanagan. Once in Brisbane, he attended events and chatted with authors and attendees, making observations on contemporary writing and publishing culture, and nursing raging hangovers thanks to John Marsden along the way. Admittedly, all of this was quite an achievement for an author who has resided underground since 1842.

At an encore performance, Chris also read from Savery's original work, Quintus Servinton. Footage recovered from the event is available, if a little damaged.

The (ongoing) Tweets

Not content to leave Henry in the peace he clearly deserves, I used a small PHP script to automate the @HenrySavery twitter account, mashing up text from Savery's novel Quintus Servinton with the very active @qldwriters account. The script used a variation of a Markov chain to jam short bursts of text together that sometimes kinda-sorta follow a particularly twisted logic. 

Every couple of hours, Henry would sprout non sequiturs into the digital ether. Every once in a while, though, he produced a gem.

Nigh at hand one cold, bleak @alexadsett talks copyright on qwc’s youtube.
— @HenrySavery
Remained faithful to his absent wife—or author platforms at gympie regional libraries.
— @HenrySavery
Entertained still, the sea gulls and expat @darrengroth! know a writer aged.
— @HenrySavery
Is a very pretty girl, but other contractual concerns are often statebased.
— @HenrySavery

And let's not forget the fun of watching bots talking to bots.

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Rest (back) in Peace

On 21 June 2018, the code running Henry's automation broke down. At 4:00pm local time, Henry sent his final tweet:

Lost no time in acquainting her tips on writing crime over at.
— @HenrySavery

No, I don't know what it means either.

I still have access to Henry's account, so you never know. He might yet make another unwelcome return.