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The Birdman’s Wife B format

by Melissa Ashley

A woman overshadowed by history steps back into the light . . .

Artist Elizabeth Gould spent her life capturing the sublime beauty of birds the world had never seen before, but her legacy was eclipsed by the fame of her husband, John Gould. Now, The Birdman’s Wife at last gives voice to a passionate and adventurous spirit, who was so much more than the woman behind the man.

In England’s golden age of discovery, as John Gould and his peers fuelled popular imagination with their scientific findings, Elizabeth deftly navigated a world that few women were permitted to enter. Juggling an artistic life with her roles as wife, lover, helpmate and mother, she breathed wondrous life into hundreds of exotic new species. A woman ahead of her time, she continually defied convention, eventually embarking on a trailblazing expedition to collect and illustrate Australia’s ‘curious’ birdlife.

The Birdman’s Wife is a multi-award winning novel, and an indelible portrait of an incredible woman.


The Birdman’s Wife is a fascinating story that is long overdue.’

‘The world can finally meet Elizabeth Gould in the flesh – or the fiction flesh, at least’

‘Melissa Ashley conjures convincing and vivid images that transport us back to another time and place, breathing life into historical characters’

The Birdman’s Wife is an exquisite reimagining of the untold story of Elizabeth Gould which restores her and her illustrations to centre stage during a period when the passion for natural history and discovery of new species was sweeping the world.’
INGA SIMPSON, author of Where the Trees Were, Nest and Mr Wigg

‘I completely fell in love with this book.’
SUSAN DUNCAN, author of Salvation Creek

‘A fascinating historical study, a meticulous and well-documented scientific report, an emotional story, and an engaging read’
CASS MORIARTY, author of The Promise Seed

‘Melissa Ashley’s lush work is a beautiful testimony to an overlooked — but brave and talented — female artist.’
JESSICA WHITE, author of A Curious Intimacy and Entitlement

About the Author

29 January 2019
RRP: $17.99
ISBN: 9781925870077
Paperback, 396 pages
198 x 128 mm
Historical Fiction

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Grace Breen
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T: (03) 8695 9619