In the Wake of First Contact: The Eliza Fraser Stories

TitleIn the Wake of First Contact: The Eliza Fraser Stories
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsSchaffer, Kay
Number of Pages320
PublisherCambridge University Press
CityCambridge; New York

This book explores one of the best known events in Australian colonial history. In 1836, the Stirling Castle was wrecked off the Queensland coast and many of the crew together with the Captain's wife, Eliza Fraser, were marooned on Fraser Island. Stories and images about the events were published immediately and were soon in wide circulation. They reflected the cultural attitudes of the time, casting Mrs Fraser as a 'civilised' white woman taken captive by 'savage' blacks. In the 160 years since the event, the story has become the subject of popular myth, fiction, poetry, opera, art, film and scholarly research. In this book, Kay Schaffer looks at the historical, ethnographic, literary, artistic and popular manifestations of Eliza Fraser as a fictional presence in Australian culture from the 1830s to recent times. The book investigates representations of masculinity and femininity, self and other. It examines the organisation of racial, class, gendered and national identities evident in the various retellings of the Eliza Fraser story, and interprets them critically.

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