chapter  6
When Is It Time for ‘Writing with an Untrammelled Pen’? Reconciling the South Australian Settler Colony with Its Violent Past in Simpson Newland’s Historical Novel, Paving the Way: A Romance of the Australian Bush
Pages 22

Kate Grenville’s historical novel The Secret River may be considered a twenty-fi rst-century representation of the Australian settler colony dream, as it describes a family settling down and eventually prospering in Australia, but it also represents the emerging nation as an unsettled place where ongoing relations between indigenous and nonindigenous people were shaped by killings and massacres that left a residue of unease, memories of violence disturbing the dream (Grenville 2005). On this island continent, Grenville reminds us, Crusoe’s footprint was not the fi rst on the beach. Whereas this ‘black armband’ version of the national story may rile conservatives concerned to ‘whitewash’ the communal memory, The Secret River is a text that returns to darker stories about the fi rst comers: in Grenville’s case, she began with a search for her convict ancestor Solomon Wiseman, but she fi nished with a work of fi ction about settling the Hawkesbury, the dispossession of indigenous people and unsettling memories of the pioneering process.