The Birdman’s Wife by Melissa Ashley

ISOBEL BLACKTHORN

What a delight it is to read stories of historical figures passed over by history probably because they were women. An even greater delight when they are told well, as is very much the case with Melissa Ashley’s The Birdman’s Wife.

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Elizabeth Gould was indeed a remarkable woman. “Inspired by a letter found tucked inside her famous husband’s papers, The Birdman’s Wife imagines the fascinating inner life of Elizabeth Gould, who was so much more than just the woman behind the man.

Elizabeth was a woman ahead of her time, juggling the demands of her artistic life with her roles as wife, lover and helpmate to a passionate and demanding genius, and as a devoted mother who gave birth to eight children. In a society obsessed with natural history and the discovery of new species, the birdman’s wife was at its glittering epicentre. Her artistry breathed life into hundreds of…

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