Affirm Press, October 2016
Pre-order at Simon & Schuster
John Gould created the most magnificent works on birds the world as ever seen. But the celebrated ‘birdman’ had a secret weapon – his artist wife, Elizabeth. Inspired by a diary found tucked inside her famous husband’s papers, The Birdman’s Wife imagines the fascinating inner life of Elizabeth Gould, who was so much more than just the woman behind the man.
Elizabeth Gould was a woman ahead of her time, juggling the demands of her artistic life with her roles as wife, lover and helpmate to a passionate and demanding genius, and as a devoted mother who gave birth to eight children. In a society obsessed with natural history and the discovery of new species, Elizabeth Gould was at its glittering epicentre. Her artistry breathed life into hundreds of exotic finds, from her husband’s celebrated discoveries to Charles Darwin’s famous Galapagos Finches.
Fired by Darwin’s discoveries, in 1838 Eliza defied convention and her own grave misgivings about leaving all but one of her children behind in London in the care of her mother by joining John on a trailblazing expedition to the untamed wilderness of Van Diemen’s Land and New South Wales to collect and illustrate Australia’s ‘curious’ birdlife.
From a naive and uncertain young girl to a bold adventurer determined to find her own voice and place in the world, The Birdman’s Wife offers an indelible portrait of an extraordinary woman overlooked by history, until now.