AustLit logo
image of person or book cover 7628334135084447098.jpg
y separately published work icon The Secret River single work   novel   historical fiction  
Is part of [The Historical Trilogy] Kate Grenville , 2005 series - author novel (number 1 in series)
Issue Details: First known date: 2006... 2006 The Secret River
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'In 1806 William Thornhill, a man of quick temper and deep feelings, is transported from the slums of London to New South Wales for the term of his natural life. With his wife Sal and their children he arrives in a harsh land he cannot understand.

'But the colony can turn a convict into a free man. Eight years later Thornhill sails up the Hawkesbury to claim a hundred acres for himself.

'Aboriginal people already live on that river. And other recent arrivals - Thomas Blackwood, Smasher Sullivan and Mrs Herring - are finding their own ways to respond to them.

'Thornhill, a man neither better nor worse than most, soon has to make the most difficult choice of his life.

'Inspired by research into her own family history, Kate Grenville vividly creates the reality of settler life, its longings, dangers and dilemmas. The Secret River is a brilliantly written book, a groundbreaking story about identity, belonging and ownership.' (From the publisher's website.)

Exhibitions

14073494
8051303
8014658
18388342
18387981

Adaptations

y separately published work icon The Secret River Andrew Bovell , 2013 Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 2013 Z1887820 2013 single work drama (taught in 2 units)

'Convict William Thornhill, exiled from the stinking slums of early 19th century London, discovers that the penal colony offers something that he never dared to hope for before: a place of his own. A stretch of land on the Hawkesbury River is Thornhill’s for the taking.

'As he and his family seek to establish themselves in this unfamiliar territory, they find that they are not the only ones to lay a claim to the land. The Hawkesbury is already home to a family of Dharug people, who are reluctant to leave on account of these intruders.

As Thornhill’s attachment to the place and the dream deepens, he is driven to make a terrible decision that will haunt him for the rest of his life.' (Source: Currency Press website)

form y separately published work icon The Secret River Mac Gudgeon , Jan Sardi , ( dir. Fred Schepisi ) 2015 Australia : Ruby Entertainment Australian Broadcasting Corporation , 2015 7504796 2015 series - publisher film/TV historical fiction

'In 1810, emancipated English convict William Thornhill stakes a claim on 100 acres of land on the remote Hawkesbury River in New South Wales, only to find that a clan of Aboriginal people also lay claim to the land, as they have done since time immemorial.' (Production summary)

Notes

  • The Secret River is briefly discussed by John Hirst in Sense & Nonsense in Australian History (2005) pp.84-86 as part of the chapter 'How Sorry Can We Be?'.
  • Featured by the BIG Book Club, an initiative supported by The Advertiser in partnership with Arts SA, The Australia Council for the Arts, Channel 7, FIVEAA and the state's public libraries to promote a love of reading, discussion and literature, July 2006.
  • Dedication: This novel is dedicated to the Aboriginal people of Australia: past, present and future.
  • Prequel to Sarah Thornhill.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Edinburgh,
      c
      Scotland,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Canongate ,
      2006 .
      image of person or book cover 7628334135084447098.jpg
      Extent: 334p.
      ISBN: 9781841956824 (pbk.), 1841956821 (pbk.)
    • Melbourne, Victoria,: Text Publishing , 2015 .
      image of person or book cover 939162831828705494.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Edition info: Television tie-in edition
      Note/s:
      • Published 27 May 2015.
      ISBN: 781925240061, 9781925240061
    • Edinburgh,
      c
      Scotland,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Canongate ,
      2018 .
      image of person or book cover 6946511526653998237.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 334p.p.
      Edition info: Canons ed.
      ISBN: 9781782118879
Alternative title: De verborgen rivier
Language: Dutch
    • Amsterdam,
      c
      Netherlands,
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Anthos (Netherlands) ,
      2006 .
      image of person or book cover 3671650654082234736.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 342p.
      ISBN: 9041410155 9789041410153
    • Amsterdam,
      c
      Netherlands,
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Anthos (Netherlands) ,
      2007 .
      image of person or book cover 7869787444096225771.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 342p.
      Edition info: 3rd Dutch ed.
      ISBN: 9789041412034

Other Formats

  • Also sound recording.

Works about this Work

White Apology and Apologia : Australian Novels of Reconciliation by Liliana Zavaglia Lukas Klik , 2020 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Literary Studies , April vol. 35 no. 1 2020;

'From at least the early 1990s, when the Hawke Labor Government introduced reconciliation legislation into the Australian parliament, the concept of reconciliation has attracted criticism from both the political left and right. While some have complained of it as a predominantly white undertaking, others have seen it as a threat to the unity of the Australian nation-state. Following the election of John Howard in 1996, reconciliation met fierce resistance from the Federal Government itself, with Howard rejecting the recommendations of the 1997 Bringing Them Home report and refusing to apologise to Indigenous Australians for their ongoing sufferings at the hands of British colonialism. This is the political climate that provides the backdrop for the five novels, all written between 2002 and 2007, which Liliana Zavaglia examines in White Apology and Apologia: Australian Novels of Reconciliation (2016). In her book, Zavaglia deliberately chooses to focus exclusively on works by Anglo-Australian writers to examine how whiteness operates in contemporary Australia. Though she conceives of her primary texts as characteristic of a liberal whiteness that ‘worked to counter [the] political attempts [by the Liberal government] to silence the Indigenous rights and reconciliation movements’ (1), she argues that they, at the same time, articulate the ‘double movement of apology and apologia’ (3) typical of whiteness in Australia. Etymologically, ‘apology’ and ‘apologia’ are cognates of the Greek and Latin apologia, respectively. Despite their common roots, however, they differ significantly in terms of meaning, for while the first implies remorse, the latter, a later borrowing of the Latin form, indicates defence and justification. By identifying moments of both apology and apologia, Zavaglia suggests, the novels she discusses reveal the ‘discourse of liberal postcolonial whiteness [to be] a riven and conflicted site, driven in a hopeful quest to heal its relations with the other, even as its normative traces continue in the legacy bequeathed to it by its colonial foundations’ (21). What then follows is an elaborate investigation of this divided and disrupted nature of Australian whiteness, as it manifests itself in contemporary Anglo-Australian fiction.' (Publication abstract)

Groundwater as Hyperobject Deborah Wardle , 2019 single work criticism
— Appears in: Mosaic , June vol. 52 no. 2 2019; (p. 1-16)

'The essay explores ideas about groundwater in terms of its characteristics as a hyperobject. Key hydrogeology concepts and the conflicts and dilemmas in uses and abuses of groundwater in Australia underpin a search for the metaphorical potency of groundwater. Literature uncovers how allegorical tones of groundwater may be expressed.' (Publication abstract)

澳大利亚和解小说批评与文学研究新动向 - 以《神秘的河流》和《卡彭塔尼亚湾》为例 New Trends in Australian Reconciliation Fiction Criticism and Literary Research : Taking "Mysterious River" and "Carpentaria Bay" as Examples Zhan Chunjuan , 2018 single work criticism
— Appears in: Foreign Literature , vol. [2018] no. 2 2018; (p. 21-30)

'随着澳大利亚民族和解运动的蓬勃兴起,和解小说于21世纪初悄然出现。它们大多基于真实历史事件,旨在修正殖民历史、呼吁种族和解、重塑民族新形象。但是围绕这一类小说的文学批评显示,和解小说因其话题、作者、立场和读者群各有不同,反映了复杂矛盾的民族心理以及激烈的话语纷争。以《神秘的河流》和《卡彭塔尼亚湾》两部小说为例,本文重点分析和解小说引发的热点问题,解读小说批评背后的政治话语和权力意识,同时揭示新时期澳大利亚文学研究的新动向

'With the vigorous rise of the Australian national reconciliation movement, reconciliation novels quietly appeared in the early 21st century. They are mostly based on real historical events, aimed at revising colonial history, calling for racial reconciliation, and rebuilding a new national image. However, the literary criticism surrounding this type of novel shows that reconciliation novels have different topics, authors, positions, and reader groups, reflecting complex and contradictory national psychology and fierce discourse disputes. Taking two novels, Mysterious River and Carpentaria Bay, as examples, this article focuses on reconciling the hot issues raised by the novel, interpreting the political discourse and power consciousness behind novel criticism, and revealing the new era of Australian literature New trends.'

Source: CNKI.

y separately published work icon Reckoning with the Past : Family Historiographies in Postcolonial Australian Literature Ashley Barnwell , Joseph Cummins , Abingdon : Routledge , 2018 17218286 2018 single work criticism

'This is the first book to examine how Australian fiction writers draw on family histories to reckon with the nation's colonial past. Located at the intersection of literature, history, and sociology, it explores the relationships between family storytelling, memory, and postcolonial identity. With attention to the political potential of family histories, Reckoning with the Past argues that authors' often autobiographical works enable us to uncover, confront, and revise national mythologies. An important contribution to the emerging global conversation about multidirectional memory and the need to attend to the effects of colonisation, this book will appeal to an interdisciplinary field of scholarly readers. '

Source: Publisher's blurb.

オーストラリアの大いなる沈黙」を超えて──ケイト・グレンヴィルの『闇の河』にみる翻訳と文化的記憶 The Great Silence of Australia : Translations and Cultural Memories of Kate Grenville's The Secret River 一谷 智子 , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: オーストラリア・ニュージーランド文学論集 2017;
A Challenging Look at the Familiar Territory of Old Australia Stella Clarke , 2005 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 25-26 June 2005; (p. 8-9)

— Review of The Secret River Kate Grenville , 2006 single work novel
River Reveals Secrets of a Country's Past Diane Stubbings , 2005 single work review
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 2 July 2005; (p. 12)

— Review of The Secret River Kate Grenville , 2006 single work novel
On a River of Dreams Katharine England , 2005 single work review
— Appears in: The Advertiser , 2 July 2005; (p. 10)

— Review of The Secret River Kate Grenville , 2006 single work novel
Original Sins of the Founding Fathers A. P. Riemer , 2005 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 2-3 July 2005; (p. 20)

— Review of The Secret River Kate Grenville , 2006 single work novel
River of Enchantment Rosemary Sorensen , 2005 single work review
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 2 - 3 July 2005; (p. 8)

— Review of The Secret River Kate Grenville , 2006 single work novel
New Frontier Makes Fantastic Fiction Jason Steger , 2005 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 14 May 2005; (p. 6)
Skeletons Out of the Closet Jane Sullivan , 2005 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Age , 2 July 2005; (p. 1-2)
Kate Grenville's forthcoming novel The Secret River will encourage a fresh debate about frontier violence between local Aboriginal people and European settlers.
Live Their Life Kate Grenville , 2005 single work column
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 2 - 3 July 2005; (p. 8)
A Woman with a Past Susan Wyndham , 2005 single work biography
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 9-10 July 2005; (p. 20-21)
A Writer's Life : Ideas and Perfection Sally Blakeney , 2005 single work biography
— Appears in: The Bulletin , 12 July vol. 123 no. 6478 2005; (p. 86-88)
Last amended 15 Oct 2019 13:20:17
X