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A Very Secret Trade : The dark story of gentlemen collectors in Tasmania - Cassandra Pybus

A Very Secret Trade

The dark story of gentlemen collectors in Tasmania

By: Cassandra Pybus

eBook | 30 April 2024

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Author of the bestselling Truganini, 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

'A deeply ethical, and deeply disturbing, historical reckoning - a model of truth-telling for white Australians. In spell-binding prose, Cassandra Pybus reveals the continuing legacies of colonial dispossession ...' - Professor Warwick Anderson

'Exhaustively researched and arrestingly told' - Professor Mark McKenna


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