MY PLACE by Sally Morgan


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In part, a memoir of a close-knit Australian family; in part, Morgan's reconstruction of her genealogy and the solution to the mystery that had shrouded it. Morgan was reared in Perth, in Western Australia, in a household teeming with children, animals, and visiting relatives. Her beautiful, feisty, widowed Mum supported the mÉnage as a cleaning woman and as a successful flower-shop proprietor. Dark-complected Nan (Australian for grandma) ran the household in a cavalier but generally effective way. Although very much her own woman, Nan was strangely fearful of authority, in particular the government rentman who appeared monthly at the publicly owned house. Not until she was 15 did Morgan learn that the family was part Aborigine. Some years later, encouraged by her white husband--and over the objections of Mum and Nan, who at first refused to supply any information--Morgan decided to write a family history. Several interviews with members of a family that once employed Nan, a long tape-recorded life-story by Nan's 93-year-old brother Arthur, and a visit to Corunna Downs Station--where Morgan met many of her Aborigine relatives--lifted the veil somewhat. Finally, Mum and even Nan fleshed out the history when they recorded their own stories. As it turns out, Nan's mother was a full-blooded Aborigine named Annie; her father was the wealthy white owner of the station. Nan refused to divulge the name of the man who fathered Mum--but he may have been a high-toned Englishman named Jack Grime. The tapes (printed in their entirety) reveal that Nan, Arthur, and Mum had all been torn from their Aborigine mothers in accordance with a law that required children with white blood to be educated as white Australians. This was why the family never mentioned its Aborigine blood, and why Nan was so terrified of officialdom. An interesting glimpse of a people trying to straddle two worlds. Highlights: the three tangy, vivid life stories.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1988
ISBN: 1921361220
Publisher: Henry Holt