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Truganini

*Winner of the 2021 National Biography Award and shortlisted for the 2020 Queensland Literary Awards*

Cassandra Pybus’s ancestors told a story of an old Aboriginal woman who would wander across their farm on Bruny Island, in south-east Tasmania, in the 1850s and 1860s. As a child, Cassandra didn’t know this woman was Truganini, and that Truganini was walking over the country of her clan, the Nuenonne.

For nearly seven decades, Truganini lived through a psychological and cultural shift more extreme than we can imagine. But her life was much more than a regrettable tragedy. Now Cassandra has examined the original eyewitness accounts to write Truganini’s extraordinary story in full.

Hardly more than a child, Truganini managed to survive the devastation of the 1820s, when the clans of south-eastern Tasmania were all but extinguished. She spent five years on a journey around Tasmania, across rugged highlands and through barely penetrable forests, with George Augustus Robinson, the self-styled missionary who was collecting the survivors to send them into exile on Flinders Island. She has become an international icon for a monumental tragedy – the so-called extinction of the original people of Tasmania.

Truganini’s story is inspiring and haunting – a journey through the apocalypse.

‘For the first time a biographer who treats her with the insight and empathy she deserves. The result is a book of unquestionable national importance.’ – PROFESSOR HENRY REYNOLDS, University of Tasmania

Kate Kelly

Kate Kelly, the daring sister of legendary bushranger Ned Kelly, was mysteriously found dead in a lagoon outside the NSW town of Forbes in 1898.

At the inquest, Kate’s husband Bricky Foster claimed that she was addicted to drink and frequently spoke of suicide. However, a neighbour testified that she had only known Kate to drink since the recent birth of her baby and that she never spoke of suicide. Was it suicide, accident or murder, and why had she changed her name to Ada?

While only a teenager, Kate rode as a messenger and decoy for the Kelly Gang, and was present at the gruesome Glenrowan siege. After Ned’s execution, she appeared at public gatherings around Australia. Huge crowds came to see her talk and ride, and she helped to popularise the Ned Kelly story as a celebrity in her own right. Then she disappeared from the public eye.

Rebecca Wilson is the first to uncover the full story of Kate Kelly’s tumultuous life. It will surprise anyone who thought they already knew the story of Australia’s most famous outlaw.

‘Rarely told in full, this is the fascinating life of one of the great characters in one of our greatest stories.’ – Paul Terry, author of The True Story of Ned Kelly’s Last Stand

‘Thoroughly recommended not only to those who have an interest in bushranging and the Kelly dynasty but anyone who enjoys a well-written and riveting yarn, based on fact.’ – Rob Willis OAM, National Library of Australia Oral History and Folklore Collections

Sheila

Vivacious, confident and striking, young Australian Sheila Chisholm met her first husband, Lord Loughborough, in Egypt during the First World War. Arriving in London as a young married woman, she quickly conquered English society, and would spend the next half a century inside the palaces, mansions and clubs of the elite. Her clandestine affair with young Bertie, the future George VI, caused ruptures at Buckingham Palace, with King George offering his son the title Duke of York in exchange for never hearing of Sheila again.

She subsequently became Lady Milbanke, one of London’s most admired fashion icons and society fundraisers and ended her days as Princess Dimitri of Russia, juggling her royal duties with a successful career as a travel agent. Throughout her remarkable life, Sheila won the hearts of men ranging from Rudolph Valentino and Vincent Astor to Prince Obolensky, and maintained longstanding friendships with Evelyn Waugh, Noël Coward, Idina Sackville and Nancy Mitford.

A story unknown to most, Sheila is a spellbinding account of an utterly fascinating woman.