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Pack of eight First Nations Classics:
Series one


The First Nations Classics series is a gathering of our most prominent Indigenous voices who continuously, as they have always done, revive the literary landscape of this continent.

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The First Nations Classics series ranges across genres, including memoir, novels, short stories and poetry. Showcasing a number of Unaipon Award winners, the series is inspired by the richness and cultural importance of First Nations writing, and the longstanding role UQP has had in publishing those works. It aims to bring new readers and renewed attention to some brilliant, timeless books that are as important, engaging and relevant today as they ever were on first publication.

This pack of eight First Nations Classics includes:

by Herb Wharton, introduced by Kev Carmody

Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence
by Nugi Garimara (Doris Pilkington), introduced by Tara June Winch

by Tony Birch, introduced by Larissa Behrendt

Heat and Light
by Ellen van Neerven, introduced by Alison Whittaker

Don't Take Your Love to Town
by Ruby Langford Ginibi, introduced by Nardi Simpson

The Window Seat
by Archie Weller, introduced by Ernie Dingo

Purple Threads
by Jeanine Leane, introduced by Evelyn Araluen

Holocaust Island
by Graeme Dixon, introduced by Ali Cobby Eckermann

Readers can look forward to more First Nations Classics in 2024.

Herb Wharton

Herb Wharton

Herb Wharton was born in Cunnamulla, Queensland, and began working as a drover in his teenage years. His maternal grandmother was of the Kooma people; his grandfathers were Irish and English. In 1992 with the publication of his first book, Unbranded, he committed to novel form his experiences of his long years spent on the stock routes of inland Australia. Cattle Camp, a collection of droving histories as told by Murri stockmen and women, was published in 1994. Where Ya’ Been Mate?, a collection of short stories, followed in 1996.

Herb has travelled extensively throughout Australia and abroad. In 1998, he was selected for a residency at the Australia Council studio in Paris where he completed Yumba Days, his first book for young readers. He was awarded the Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature in 2012, and most recently was the recipient of a black&write! Fellowship in 2022.

Doris (Nugi Garimara) Pilkington

Nugi Garimara AM (1937–2014) is Doris Pilkington’s Aboriginal name. She was born on Balfour Downs Station in the East Pilbara. As a toddler she was removed by authorities from her home at the station, along with her mother Molly Craig and baby sister Anna, and committed to Moore River Native Settlement. This was the same institution Molly had escaped from ten years previously, the account of which is told in Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence.

At eighteen, Nugi left the mission system as the first of its members to qualify for the Royal Perth Hospital’s nursing aide training program. Following marriage and a family, she studied journalism and worked in film and video production. Caprice: A Stockman’s Daughter, originally published in 1991, was her first book and won the 1990 David Unaipon Award. Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence was first published in 1996, and was released internationally in 2002 as the film Rabbit-Proof Fence, directed by Phillip Noyce. Nugi’s own story is told in Under the Wintamarra Tree (UQP, 2002).

Tony Birch

Tony Birch

Tony Birch is the author of four novels, five short fiction collections, and two poetry books. In 2022 his book, Dark As Last Night was awarded the Christina Stead Literary Prize and the Steele Rudd Literary Award. The book was also shortlisted for the 2022 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for fiction. His most recent book is the novel, Women and Children, (UQP 2023).

Photo credit: Anna Jacobson

Ellen van Neerven

Ellen van Neerven is an award-winning writer of Mununjali Yugambeh and Dutch heritage. Ellen’s first book, Heat and Light, was the recipient of the David Unaipon Award, the Dobbie Literary Award and the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Indigenous Writers’ Prize. They are the author of two poetry collections: Comfort Food, which was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Kenneth Slessor Prize; and Throat, which won the Kenneth Slessor Prize, the Multicultural NSW Award and Book of the Year in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

Ruby Langford Ginibi

Ruby Langford Ginibi (1934–2011), a member of the Bundjalung people, was born on Box Ridge mission at Coraki in northern New South Wales. She grew up in Bonalbo and later Casino. Her tribal name ‘Ginibi’ (black swan) was given to her in 1990 by her aunt, Eileen Morgan, a tribal elder of Box Ridge mission. Her autobiographies Don’t Take Your Love to Town (1988) and Real Deadly (1992) describe her life in the bush and later in Sydney raising a family of nine children. She has also published My Bundjalung People (1994), Haunted by the Past (1999) and All My Mob (2007). Recognised as a spokesperson for and educator of Koori culture, she travelled and lectured in Australia and abroad, and her essays were widely published.

Archie Weller

Archie Weller is the author of two novels: The Day of the Dog, which was runner-up in the first Vogel Award and was made into the film Blackfellas, and Land of the Golden Clouds, which won the Human Rights Award in 1998 and was presented by Sir William Dean. His stories have been widely anthologised and collected in Going Home. He has published a volume of poetry, The Unknown Soldier and Other Poems, and he has written a number of plays and a film script. He currently lives in Western Australia.

Jeanine Leane
Photo by South East Arts

Jeanine Leane

Jeanine Leane is a Wiradjuri writer, poet and academic from south-west New South Wales. Her first volume of poetry, Dark Secrets After Dreaming: A.D. 1887–1961, won the Scanlon Prize for Indigenous Poetry, and her first novel, Purple Threads, won the David Unaipon Award. Jeanine has published widely in the area of Aboriginal literature, writing otherness and creative nonfiction. Jeanine was the recipient of the University of Canberra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Poetry Prize, and she has won the Oodgeroo Noonuccal Prize for Poetry twice. In 2023 she won the David Harold Tribe Award for Poetry, Australia's richest poetry prize.. She has been the recipient of a Red Room Poetry Fellowship and two Australian Research Council (ARC) Fellowships. Jeanine taught Creative Writing and Aboriginal Literature for many years at the University of Melbourne, where she is currently First Nations Writer in Residence.

In 2023 she won the David Harold Tribe Award for Poetry.

Graeme Dixon

Graeme Dixon (1955–2010) was born in Perth, Western Australia. Between the ages of ten and fourteen he lived in a Salvation Army Boys Home, before being expelled from high school. He was in and out of reformatories and at sixteen ended up in Fremantle Prison where he spent most of the next nine years. His first poetry collection, Holocaust Island, was written in prison and was the inaugural winner of the David Unaipon Award in 1989.