Scholar Talk: Searching for Charlotte: Australia’s First Children’s Writer
With Kate Forsyth
Australia’s first children’s book, A Mother’s Offering to Her Children, was published in 1841. The book’s author, referred to simply as ‘A Lady Long Resident in NSW’, was actually Charlotte Waring Anderson. Australian writer Kate Forsyth, a descendant of Charlotte Waring Anderson, has spent the past year investigating her ancestor’s astonishing true story of love, grief, and triumph in the face of overwhelming odds. Searching for Charlotte — written by Kate with her sister Belinda Murrell — is to be published by the National Library in 2021 to celebrate the 180th anniversary of A Mother’s Offering.
Dr Kate Forsyth writes novels for both children and adults, as well as essays, poetry and short stories. Her books include Bitter Greens, a retelling of ‘Rapunzel’, which won the 2015 ALA award for Best Historical Fiction; and the collection of feminist fairytale retellings, Vasilisa the Wise & Other Tales of Brave Young Women. Kate won the 2017 William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism and was awarded the 2019 Nancy Keesing Fellowship. Kate is a direct descendant of Charlotte Waring Atkinson, the author of the first book for children ever published in Australia.