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Searching For Charlotte: The Fascinating Story Of Australia’s First Children’s Author

Forsyth, Kate, 1966-


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180 years ago, Australia’s first children’s book was published by an anonymous writer known only as ‘a lady long resident in New South Wales’. The identity of the author was one of Australia’s most puzzling literary mysteries until 1981, when she was finally given a name: Charlotte Waring Atkinson. Today, her great-great-great-great-granddaughters Kate Forsyth and Belinda Murrell are also celebrated authors. They grew up on stories about Charlotte’s life of love, grief and violence – about her struggle to assert an independent spirit. A bestselling author, she was an early Australian artist and a pioneer in the fight for women’s legal rights, waging a bitter court battle for the right to raise her own children. In “Searching for Charlotte”, Kate and Belinda embark on a voyage of discovery that investigates family history, writing, motherhood, what changes and what stays the same. It is a journey that will transform everything they thought they knew about their family.

304 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : coloured illustrations, portraits (chiefly coloured) ; 24 cm #020422

  • Prologue: A family of storytellers
  • 1. Almost an orphan
  • 2. A Kentish man
  • 3. The governess trade
  • 4. Seeking adventures abroad
  • 5. Courtship
  • 6. Bethrothed
  • 7. Oldbury
  • 8. Grief
  • 9. Changing the world
  • 10. Trapped
  • 11. A notable she-dragon
  • 12. Return to Oldbury
  • 13. Charlotte’s legacy
  • 14. Anon
  • 15. Fire dance – 16. Wishing for wings
  • Afterword: Songspirals.

Waring Atkinson, Charlotte, 1796-1867.  |  Women immigrants — New South Wales — Biography.  |  Women authors — New South Wales — Biography.  |  Authors, Australian — New South Wales — Biography.  |  Australian

Additional Information

AuthorForsyth, Kate, 1966-
Number of pages304 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : coloured illustrations, portraits (chiefly coloured) ; 24 cm
PublisherNLA Publishing
Year Published2020
Binding Type


Book Condition


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