The Fascinating Story of Australia’s First Children’s Author

Told by her great-great-great-great-granddaughters
Kate Forsyth & Belinda Murrell

Searching for Charlotte_high res cover

Writing is in their blood

180 years ago, Australia’s first children’s book was published by an anonymous writer known only as ‘a lady long resident in New South Wales’.

The identity of the author was one of Australia’s most puzzling literary mysteries until 1981, when she was finally given a name: Charlotte Waring Atkinson.

Today, her great-great-great-great-granddaughters Kate Forsyth and Belinda Murrell are also celebrated authors. They grew up on stories about Charlotte’s life of love, grief and violence—about her struggle to assert an independent spirit. A bestselling author, she was an early Australian artist and a pioneer in the fight for women’s legal rights, waging a bitter court battle for the right to raise her own children.

In Searching for CharlotteKate and Belinda embark on a voyage of discovery that investigates family history, writing, motherhood, what changes and what stays the same.

It is a journey that will transform everything they thought they knew about their family …

Kate Forsyth received the 2019 Nancy Keesing fellowship from the State Library of NSW to assist in the research and creation of Searching for Charlotte

Belinda and Kate as Children
Belinda and Kate as Children
The dedication page from Charlotte Waring sketchbook for her daughter, Jane Emily Atkinson
The dedication page from Charlotte Waring’s sketchbook for her daughter, Jane Emily Atkinson