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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
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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 ,
      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 ,
      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

Unease and Disease : Redrawing the Boundaries of Colonial Madness James Dunk , 2021 single work essay
— Appears in: Griffith Review , April no. 72 2021; (p. 122-131)
'OVER THE COURSE of eight years I researched and wrote a book, Bedlam at Botany Bay, about colonial madness in Australia. I read the records generated by the projects undertaken here – endeavours at every scale, from simple survival through to the efforts of empires to mobilise labour, capital and morality. Letters scratched out by the two outsized, Crown-appointed spiders working from the stone house on the rise above the eastern shore of Warrane (Sydney Harbour) and transmitted to the buildings thrown up around the edge of the water; the second settlement at Parramatta; the outstations in contested areas; the penal stations on far-flung islands; and the lair of the hulking old beast half a world away on Downing Street. I read case notes scribbled by half-trained doctors, case law by half-trained lawyers, editorials and newsprint written in the same inflated, pompous register in which it seems that many of the better-heeled colonists prosecuted their lives. The spiders spun without cease a taut, geometric thing strung over the uneven, ungainly contours of the colony, over the actual life of the world I was working to reconstruct. Somewhere within this close web, and the stray silken threads spun silent across the water by every person with access to ink and paper and language, somewhere within and inside all this lovely, suffocating gossamer lay the monstrous and mundane matter of colonisation: a thing so ordinary anyone could do it and so special some felt called to it and so awful that it continues to poison the land and everything on it.' (Introduction)
The History Bubble : Negotiating Authenticity in Historical Romance Novels Lisa Hackett , Jo Coghlan , 2021 single work essay
— Appears in: M/C Journal , vol. 24 no. 1 2021;

'Many people’s knowledge of history is gleaned through popular culture. As a result there is likely a blurring of history with myth. This is one of the criticisms of historical romance novels, which blur historical details with fictional representations. As a result of this the genre is often dismissed from serious academic scholarship. The other reason for its disregard may be that it is largely seen as women’s fiction. As ‘women’s fiction’ it is largely relegated to that of ‘low culture’ and considered to have little literary value. Yet the romance genre remains popular and lucrative. Research by the Romance Writers of America in 2016 found that the genre represents 23% of the US fiction market and generates in excess of US$1 billion per year (Romance Writers of America). Since the onset of COVID-19, sales of romance novels in the US have soared, increasing by 17% between January and May 2020. The most popular genre was the historical romance genre. In total during that period, 16.2 million romance e-books were purchased by consumers (NPD). Yet despite its popularity, romance fiction remains stuck in the pulp fiction bubble. This article draws upon an international survey conducted in June 2020 by the authors. The study aimed to understand how readers of historical romance novels (n=813) engage with historical representations in popular culture, and how they navigate issues of authenticity.' (Introduction)

Indigenous Art, Beyond Stereotypes Steve Dow , 2021 single work essay
— Appears in: Meanjin , Autumn vol. 80 no. 1 2021; Meanjin Online 2021;

'Throughout her stage and screen career, the actor Ningali Lawford-Wolf used the English she only began learning in earnest at about age 11 for diplomatic reasoning. She spoke three Indigenous languages too. Born circa 1967 in the large remote Aboriginal community of Wangkatjungka, 100 kilometres south-east of Fitzroy Crossing in the Western Australian Kimberley region, Lawford-Wolf would go on to appear in films such as Phillip Noyce’s Rabbit-Proof Fence, released in 2002, playing Maude, the mother of two of three little girls stolen from their families, based on a true story that chimed with her own: her father, who worked on a cattle farm, had forcibly been removed from his parents too.' (Introduction)

The Australian Book You Should Read Next : The Secret River by Kate Grenville Stephanie Wood , 2020 single work review
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 20 July 2020;

— Review of The Secret River Kate Grenville , 2006 single work novel

'We hold our breath as we read Grenville’s account of her convict ancestor, hoping for the harmonious ending we know cannot come.'

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)

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
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