Sue Williams joins us to discuss her new novel, Elizabeth & Elizabeth, the story of two women who combined their courage and wisdom to wield extraordinary power and influence behind the scenes of the fledgling colony.
Image: Sue Williams (photographer Lorrie Graham 2020) and Elizabeth & Elizabeth book cover art.
VIRTUAL TALK: Elizabeth & Elizabeth with Sue Williams
Elizabeth & Elizabeth is the story of how two women, who should have been bitter foes, combined their courage and wisdom to wield extraordinary power and influence behind the scenes of the New South Wales colony.
Join Sue Williams as she discusses the inspiration behind her first novel, Elizabeth & Elizabeth, her writing process and the extensive research that went into writing the book. Sue will also explore the challenges of writing from the perspective of historical figures and how she achieved a seamless weaving of real historical events into her fiction.
About Sue Williams
Sue Williams is a bestselling author and award-winning journalist, working in newspapers, magazines and TV in Australia, the UK and New Zealand. Born in England, but settling in Australia in 1989, she’s also a travel writer and university lecturer. She lives in Sydney’s Kings Cross with her partner, writer Jimmy Thomson.
Her books include Getting There: Journeys of an accidental adventurer; the story of her travels around isolated Australia, Welcome to the Outback; and a series of other books about the outback, Women in the Outback, Outback Spirit and Outback Heroines. She’s also written biographies of Father Chris Riley, Mean Streets, Kind Hearts; Father Bob Maguire, Father Bob: The larrikin priest; navy diver Paul de Gelder, No Time For Fear; Fred Brophy, The Last Showman; and Australia’s youngest Everest climber Alyssa Azar, The Girl Who Climbed Everest.
Sue’s true-crime book And Then The Darkness: The disappearance of Peter Falconio and the trials of Joanne Lees was shortlisted for the international 2006 Gold Dagger Award for the world’s best crime non-fiction. Her first children’s book was Everest Dreaming.
Elizabeth & Elizabeth is Sue’s first novel, borne out of a love of early colonial Australian history – pivotal in the development of the country – and an overriding admiration for women of that era making their own way in life. With both Elizabeth Macquarie and Elizabeth Macarthur having a huge impact on the nation, despite all the odds, Elizabeth & Elizabeth is the result of an enduring fascination with what might have been.
About Elizabeth & Elizabeth
There was a moment in Australia’s European history when two women wielded extraordinary power and influence behind the scenes of the fledgling colony.
One was Elizabeth Macquarie, the wife of the new governor Lachlan Macquarie, nudging him towards social reform and magnificent buildings and town planning. The other was Elizabeth Macarthur, the wife of John Macarthur, a dangerous enemy of the establishment, who is herself credited with creating Australia’s wool industry.
These women should, in normal circumstances, have been bitter foes. But this novel explores what happens when two women of vision and courage are thrown together in impossible times.
‘I really enjoyed writing this book and delving into their world. Both Elizabeths were incredibly impressive as women of their time. They were tough and extraordinarily resilient in what was, in many ways, a brutal man’s world. They both lost children, and ‘Betsey’ Macquarie suffered numerous lost pregnancies. Yet they both managed to forge independent lives for themselves, and make a huge difference in the colony, at a time when women were seen but rarely heard. Today, they would be just as remarkable. Strong and with vision, neither would be deterred today either from what they felt was their role, despite any number of odds.’
– Sue Williams
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