Cassandra Pybus Meet the Author

Cassandra Pybus will be in conversation with Mark McKenna on her new bookVery Secret Trade. The dark story of gentlemen collectors in Tasmania.

Cassandra Pybus has uncovered one of the darkest and best kept secrets in Australian colonial history. In the nineteenth century, collectors and museum curators in Europe were fascinated by the antipodean colony of Tasmania. They cultivated contacts in the colony who could supply them with exotic specimens, including skeletons of the thylacine and the platypus. But they were not just interested in animals and plants. The belief that the original people of the colony were an utterly unique race and facing possible extinction had the European scientific community scrambling for human exhibits.

Many eminent colonial figures were involved in this clandestine trade, among them four colonial governors, several key politicians and even Lady Jane Franklin. In Britain, Sir Joseph Banks, the Duke of Newcastle and Professor Thomas Huxley were among many eminent men who solicited human specimens from the colony. Worse still, the men responsible for the care and protection of the few original people who had survived the ravages of disease and the infamous Black Wars were prominent in the trade.

Cassandra Pybus has uncovered one of the darkest and most carefully hidden secrets in Australia’s colonial history. It is time we all knew the truth.

‘Truth-telling is every Australian’s responsibility. Reading this book will help you to walk with us.’ – Thomas Mayo

Dr Cassandra Pybus FAHA is an award-winning author and a distinguished historian. She is the author of 13 books including the bestselling biography, Truganini and has held research professorships at the University of Sydney, Georgetown University in Washington DC, the University of Texas and King’s College London. She is descended from a colonist who received the largest free land grant on Truganini’s traditional country of Bruny Island.

Professor Mark McKenna one of Australia’s leading historians, is the author of several prize-winning books, including From the Edge: Australia’s Lost Histories, Looking for Blackfellas’ Point and An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark, which won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for nonfiction and the Victorian, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australian premiers’ awards.

The vote of thanks will be given by Professor Diane Bell, Distinguished Honorary Professor ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

This event is in association with Harry Hartog Bookshop. Books will be available for purchase. Pre-event book signings will be available from 5.30pm and again after the event.

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podcast will be made available after the event.

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