Finding Eliza: Power and Colonial Storytelling by Larissa Behrendt  

Published: 2016 1. Cover: University of Queensland Press 2. Cover “A Fringe of Leaves” by Patrick White [Fair Use] 3. Report [Public Domain] via State Library of Western Australia 4 & 5. Book Covers [Fair Use] Mrs Fraser on the Fatal Shore by Michael Alexander, and Coonardoo by Katharine Susannah Prichard 6. Screenshot of an excerpt from “Finding Eliza” by Larissa Behrendt.

This book is an analysis of the way in which Australian Indigenous people have been portrayed by non-Indigenous people based on racist attitudes. The author uses the story of Eliza Fraser’s time with the Butchulla people of Fraser Island in 1836, to demonstrate the inaccuracies that have been accepted as truth. Stereotypes in literature are also examined.

“Eliza’s story is imbued with British fears and insecurities about both the frontier and Aboriginal people”.

The author gives a different perspective on the Eliza Fraser story which portrayed the Butchulla people as “savages” who held her captive. It is written clearly and thoughtfully, with numerous citations and examples to back up her arguments. Finding Eliza is a rigorous and very readable look at some of the dishonest fables that have embellished colonial history for far too long.” Judges’ comments (NSW Premier’s Award)


“You cannot create an authentic Aboriginal character unless you are able to deeply and truly understand their experience and perspective.”

“Europeans viewed the uncolonised parts of the world with a prejudice that was deeply rooted in their own dark acts.”

Author: Larissa Behrendt

Awards: Shortlisted 2018 NSW Premier’s Award, Indigenous Writer

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