Project Description

The Birdman's Wife by Melissa Ashley

The Birdman's Wife by Melissa Ashley

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The Birdman’s Wife

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. 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.

Elizabeth was a woman ahead of her time, juggling the demands of her artistic life with her roles as wife, lover, helpmate, and mother to an ever-growing brood of children. In a golden age of discovery, her artistry breathed wondrous life into hundreds of exotic new species, including Charles Darwin’s famous Galapagos finches.

In The Birdman’s Wife, the naïve young girl who falls in love with a demanding and ambitious genius comes into her own as a woman, an artist and a bold adventurer who defies convention by embarking on a trailblazing expedition to collect and illustrate Australia’s ‘curious’ birdlife.

In this indelible portrait, an extraordinary woman overshadowed by history steps back into the light where she belongs.


‘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

October 2016
RRP: $32.99
ISBN: 9781925344998
234 x 153 mm

For media enquiries please contact:
Grace Breen
Publicity and Marketing Manager
T: (03) 8695 9619