Last week I did an hour-long interview with Richard Fidler on his hugely popular ABC Radio Show ‘Conversations’ (click the link to listen to the whole interview). Among other things, I spoke about my great-great-great-great-grandmother, Charlotte Waring Atkinson, who wrote the first children’s book published in Australia. I have had such a huge response from the show, and so many questions about this incredibly strong, brave and clever woman, that I decided to post an article I wrote for Australian Author some years ago to celebrate the 170th anniversary of the book’s publication:
‘Heirs of Immortality’
Who was the mysterious ‘Lady’ who wrote Australia’s first children’s book?
Nowadays, Australian children’s authors such as Shaun Tan, Melina Marchetta, Sonya Hartnett, John Marsden, and Garth Nix are as well-known internationally as they are here.
Yet how many people know the name of Australia’s first children’s writer?
Marcie Muir (1919-2007) was a collector and bibliographer of Australian children’s books whose passion became an obsession. Her library of over 7000 books – many of them extremely rare – was bought last year by the National Library of Australia. There was one book, though, that she was never able to afford to buy. A first edition of A Mother’s Offering To Her Children is now valued at $60,000. Even sixty-odd years ago, it was worth more than Marcie Muir could afford to pay.