The Butterfly Collector by Tea Cooper

Published: 2022. Harper Collins. Historical fiction

Verity Binks is a young woman working for “The Arrow” newspaper in Sydney in 1922. After leaving her job to make way for returning soldiers, she is asked to write the story of the Treadwell Foundation, an organization that supports unwed mothers and their babies. Her research takes her to Morpeth where she uncovers an historical mystery connected to the 19th century inhabitants, including Theodora Breckenridge, who has a passion for collecting and sketching butterflies. Verity discovers links to her own family, and unravels the fifty-year-old mystery.

“A butterfly hovered, wings lifting and falling in perfect harmony…”

This novel is beautifully presented, both the cover and the inside – the reference map and the little butterfly dividers. There is so much of historical interest in this story, and the author has blended historical fact smoothly into the story.


“A Ladies Reading Circle. Not anything she wanted to get caught up in. An excuse for women to get together and eat cakes, drink tea and chit chat.

” The cluster rippled then the first butterfly took wing and the next and the next. Starting as a stream, the cascade grew. The sound of their beating wings magnified like a waterfall and the air above became orange, blotting out the bright autumn sky.

Author: Tea Cooper

Images: Butterfly cluster Pixnio; Harriet Scott, who with her sister was an accomplished botanical illustrator who lived near Morpeth in the Hunter region of New South Wales. The Australian Museum Collection

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