written by Edel Wignell
In this delightful book Edel Wignell tells the story about Christina MacPherson. This little-known woman introduced Banjo Paterson to the tune which he used to accompany his words to create Australia’s most popular song.
Christina’s story is full of interest. There is an exciting account of a rather dangerous meeting which her family had with the bushranger Dan Morgan. Christina was only a baby when this occurred. We learn of her education at a Ladies’ School in Melbourne. We are told of the events which led to her familiarity with a marching tune. This melody would inspire her famous musical setting for Paterson’s words. How she came to be at Dagworth Station in Queensland and meet Paterson is also revealed. We learn of the depressed economic situation which played a part in inspiring Paterson’s words. We discover that there was more than one version of Waltzing Matilda.
While setting the historical record straight by acknowledging the importance of Christina’s contribution, the book also includes archival photographs of those who appear in the narrative and the places mentioned. There are copies of the different Matilda versions for the reader to compare and maps to locate where events took place. A comprehensive glossary is provided at the end of the book. As a former teacher, the educational possibilities for individual or group research work are clearly obvious.
The sepia tones of each page made me feel that I was stepping back into the past to gather the information. I hope the imagination of younger readers will respond in a similar way. Elizabeth Botte’s beautiful, intricate and intriguing line drawings which surround most of the page borders further promote one’s desire to explore and discover.
Edel Wignell has successfully told the story of a modest woman who made a very significant contribution to Australia. The young and not so young reader will find it a most worthwhile read.