The Secret River

The Secret River Study Guide

Published in 2005, The Secret River is the first book in a trilogy by Kate Grenville that tackles the morally complex history of the colonization of Australia. The Secret River emerged out Grenville's research into her ancestor, Solomon Wiseman, who served as the model for William Thornhill. Solomon Wiseman was a lighterman on the Thames in London until he was arrested and deported to the convict colony at New South Wales for stealing valuable timber. Like William Thornhill, Soloman Wiseman built a thriving business in Australia and acquired great wealth. Drawing on the life of Soloman Wiseman and records of the conflicts between the settlers and the Aborigines, Grenville tells a sweeping story of a man determined to shed his past and build a new life for his family in the daunting landscape of New South Wales.

In The Secret River, Grenville explores the destructive clash of civilizations that occurred during the colonization of Australia. She tells a compelling story about the initial encounters between the Aborigines and the white settlers and the competing claims to the land that eventually lead to the violent dispersal of the Aborigines and the foundation of modern Australia. The Secret River is part of a new trend in Australian literature that explores the nation's controversial and often ignored convict past and marginalization of the Aborigines.

in Searching for the Secret River, Grenville recounts the creative process of taking historical facts and turning them into fiction. The book is part memoir, part research record, part creative writing manual. The book provides great insight into every aspect of the germination and writing of The Secret River.

The Secret River was an international bestseller and won several high profile awards, including the Commonwealth Prize for Literature, the Christina Stead Prize, and the Bookseller's Choice Award. The novel was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. The Secret River is included in the curriculum of numerous schools and universities in Australia.