Alexander Pearce escaped from the remote Tasmanian penal settlement of Sarah Island in 1822, along with seven other convicts. But the mountains and thick bush proved very difficult going, and there was no game, and after a week they were starving and desperate. Weeks later Alexander Pearce was the only one who survived to reach the settled districts, having lived off the corpses of his comrades. Alexander Pearce was first recreated as a caricature of evil in Marcus Clarke''s 1874 novel For the Term of His Natural Life as the convict Gabbett. Since then he has been recreated in many ways, some more historically accurate, and some not, but rarely as a humanly complex figure. Using the case of Alexander Pearce, the author argues the importance of the non-fiction-based historical novel and how it can contribute to our understanding of the past, through imagining those details of the past that would otherwise be unknown to us.