Author(s): Melissa Ashley
Inspired by a letter found tucked inside her famous husband's papers, The Birdman's Wife imagines the fascinating inner life of Elizabeth Gould, who was so much more than just the woman behind the man. Elizabeth was a woman ahead of her time, juggling the demands of her artistic life with her roles as wife, lover and helpmate to a passionate and demanding genius, and as a devoted mother who gave birth to eight children. In a society obsessed with natural history and the discovery of new species, the birdman's wife was at its glittering epicentre. Her artistry breathed life into hundreds of exotic finds, from her husband's celebrated collections to Charles Darwin's famous Galapagos finches. Fired by Darwin's discoveries, in 1838 Eliza defied convention by joining John on a trailblazing expedition to the untamed wilderness of Van Diemen's Land and New South Wales to collect and illustrate Australia's 'curious' birdlife. From a naïve and uncertain young girl to a bold adventurer determined to find her own voice and place in the world, The Birdman's Wife paints an indelible portrait of an extraordinary woman overlooked by history, until now.
Melissa Ashley is a Brisbane-based writer, poet and academic who tutors in poetry and creative writing at the University of Queensland. She has published a collection of poems, The Hospital for Dolls, articles, essays and short stories. What started out as research for a PhD dissertation on Elizabeth Gould became a labour of love and her first novel, THE BIRDMAN'S WIFE. Melissa even followed in her heroine's footsteps by learning taxidermy as a volunteer at the Queensland Museum. She's also a passionate amateur 'birder'.