Leaving a mark on history is usually the result of courage, but it always starts by simply making a stand.
Since 2009, Australian journalist Michael Burge has written about single-minded individuals who faced fear, grief and oppression, yet went through with defiant acts of social and cultural rebellion.
Many of them got a very bad name in the process, or had their motives shrouded in mystery.
Pluck is Michael’s re-examination of several divas, dilettantes, groundbreakers, chameleons, rebels and heroes faced with crossroads, comebacks and reinventions.
From international cultural figures such as Whitney Houston, Meryl Streep and Angela Lansbury, and writers E. M. Forster, Agatha Christie, William Shakespeare and Helene Hanff; to lesser-known artists such as Australia's unsung costume designer Orry-Kelly and England's wayward Brontë brother Branwell, Michael digs deep into extraordinary lives.
Along the way, he records encounters with people whose courage put them in the line of critical fire, through coming out, such as Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe; and through making a stand for the sake of their working style, like Australian actor Judy Davis.
This fascinating collection reveals new perspectives on fame but also sheds a timely light on lives which may never be acclaimed, yet went where angels fear to tread.
Don't fuck with Judy Davis
Mrs Christie would kill for a holiday
Shakespeare - a farmer who cultivated words
Matthew Flinders - navigating prejudice
Carbon Cate's direct action on the cultural cringe
Orry-Kelly - the costume King from Kiama
The false start we gave Ian Thorpe
Alan Bennett - the mystery boy
Katie Webb and the Cave Girls
Tony and Bern Sutton - equality people
Dymphna Cusack & Florence James - literary chicks
Margaret Betts - tree planter
Lottie Lyell - the sentimental girl
Janet Mays - forging independence
Angela Lansbury - the sharpest battleaxe
Helene Hanff - lady of letters
Annie Lennox - tarnished angel
Grit & Gentility
Nellie Melba and the daffodil farmer
The soul searching of Whitney Houston
Branwell Brontë - literature's never-was
Beryl Guertner - decor queen
Sumner Locke Elliot - loved us and left us
The wilderness years of Meryl Streep
The writer's block of E. M. Forster