Book review: The Birdman's Wife

Book review: The Birdman's Wife

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Melissa Ashley's The Birdman's Wife

Melissa Ashley's The Birdman's Wife

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YOU probably haven’t heard of her, but anyone remotely interested in birds should dip their lid to Elizabeth Gould.

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YOU probably haven’t heard of her, but anyone remotely interested in birds should dip their lid to Elizabeth Gould.

The artist wife of legendary “birdman” John Gould, recognised as the father of Australian ornithology and creator of its bible, The Birds of Australia, spent her life capturing the sublime beauty of hundreds of birds the world had never seen before.

Her legacy was eclipsed by her husband’s fame - until now.

Inspired by letters from Elizabeth found tucked inside John Gould’s papers, Melissa Ashley gives voice to a passionate, adventurous spirit in her new book, The Birdman’s Wife.

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.

Her artistry breathed life into countless exotic finds, from her husband’s celebrated collections to Charles Darwin’s famous Galapagos finches.

Fired by Darwin’s discoveries, she defied convention, embarking on a trailblazing two-year expedition to the Australian colonies to discover and illustrate its “curious” birdlife.

  • The Birdman’s Wife, Affirm Press, RRP $32.99
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