Indigenous history In London.
I love history and travel and am inspired by the generations of Australian women who travelled to London from Australia before me. Women like Annette Kellerman, the early 20th-century Sydney-based swimmer and activist and Melbourne-born writer and academic, Germain Greer. But I know nothing of the experiences of Australian Aboriginal women in London, and would love to hear from anyone who does.
History Professor Coll Thrush's book "Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of Empire" doesn't give me the answer but it does bring alive the stories and experiences of all sorts of indigenous people, from the 1500s to now, who travelled to London.
Thrush tells of indigenous Australian men along with other indigenous people from Canada, the USA and New Zealand, speculating on their encounters by drawing on rich and varied materials. These travellers includ chiefs, explorers, athletes, royalty, performers and children. They came to London by invitation, or motivated by curiosity, or emboldened by a desire for a better deal, or by capture and imprisonment.
While the book doesn't contain stories of Australian Aboriginal women, it does reckon with the experiences of Aboriginal Australian men such as Bennelong and Yemmerrawannie who came to London in 1793; Jungunjinanuke, Bripumyarrimin and other members of the first indigenous Aboriginal cricket team who came to London in 1868, and activists Anthony Fernando and Burnum Burnum.
The book situates their experiences in London alongside those of other indigenous travellers such as the noblewoman Pocahontas, King Liholiho and Queen Kamamalu of Hawaii, Tekahionwake the Mohawk poet and performer, and many more famous and lesser known people.
The striking cover features " London Calling 1762" by America Meredith, a Swedish-Cherokee painter and printmaker, which provocatively references the famous "Abbey Road" Beatles album cover and the three Cherokee diplomats who toured London in 1762. The book's inscription is moving:"In memory of those who did not return," reminding readers of the indigenous visitors who died through illness and disease such as pneumonia or tuberculosis.
The hurley burley of London is presented through images, letters, poems, portraits, photographs and lithographs, as well as through personal responses and opinions from both indigenous travellers and long-term Londoners. Finally, the book also contains a number of useful self-guided walking tours of London which enable modern travellers and visitors to experience London by connecting with the experiences of Indigenous London.