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Year 11 ATAR English: The Secret River



This guide provides you with information and resources on the novel The Secret River by Kate Grenville. It is meant to enrich and build upon the work you will do in English. Your teacher may direct you to specific pages on this guide but you can always use it for your own further reading and research. 


Make sure you reference any resources or information you use; there is information on what should be referenced and how on the Bibliography page.


Kate Grenville (AO) is a critically acclaimed and award-winning Australian author. The Secret River is her sixth novel and arguably her most successful, being shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2006 and been adapted for the screen and theatre. 

Read the World Book Online Encyclopedia's entry on Kate Grenville for an overview of her personal context and click on the link below from the AustLit database for an overview of the novel. You can also read an extensive interview with Grenville discussing her writing in this article from the Australian magazine

From AustLit database:

'In 1806 William Thornhill, a man of quick temper and deep feelings, is transported from the slums of London to New South Wales for the term of his natural life. With his wife Sal and their children he arrives in a harsh land he cannot understand. But the colony can turn a convict into a free man. Eight years later Thornhill sails up the Hawkesbury to claim a hundred acres for himself. Aboriginal people already live on that river. And other recent arrivals - Thomas Blackwood, Smasher Sullivan and Mrs Herring - are finding their own ways to respond to them. Thornhill, a man neither better nor worse than most, soon has to make the most difficult choice of his life.

The Secret River | AustLit: Discover Australian Stories. (2017). Retrieved from