Author pensbiography of suffragist

Headshot of Pierra Willix
Pierra WillixBusselton Dunsborough Times

Uncovering the stories of relatively unknown Australians has become the focus of author Robert Wainwright’s most recent novels, with his latest book telling the story of a history-making suffragette.

Born in Busselton, Wainwright started his career as a cadet at the then Busselton Margaret Times and after spending more than 25 years working as a journalist, he has now written 11 novels.

Wainwright said his journalistic background was integral to his writing as an author.

“My first books were about stories I had covered as a journalist, and now I write biographies about what I call lost histories; amazing Australians forgotten by the time and whose stories should be celebrated,” he said.

Wainwright said even though journalism has changed dramatically since he started at the Times in 1979, the basics had not.

“It’s about revealing new information and a damn good yarn. I have written about famous people like Ian Thorpe, Rose Porteous, Martin Bryant and Justin Langer, hopefully revealing something fresh and new, but I also like writing about people and events that are not known and whose stories are simply amazing,” he said.

Wainwright’s latest book, Miss Muriel Matters, is a biography of the Australian actress who went on to become one of London’s most famous suffragists.

“I wanted to engage my youngest daughter, Allegra, who is an avid reader, who as a 14-year- old had become passionate about feminism, so I decided to try and find a forgotten suffragette,” he said.

“In my initial research, I stumbled across Muriel’s story; her name alone makes her fabulous but her deeds should have made her an Australian icon.”

In 1909, Muriel Matters made headlines across the world when she took to the sky over the British Houses of Parliament in an airship emblazoned with the slogan Votes for Women and when prevailing winds forced her to sail around London instead, she dropped leaflets all over the city with the American media declaring it to be the world’s first aerial protest.

“As the father of two daughters, I find it totally illogical that their rights and opportunities should be any different from my two sons, and yet somehow many of the issues that Muriel and others fought for remain as relevant today as they did a century ago,” he said.

Wainwright will be appearing at Dymocks Busselton for the In Conversations event on Thursday, April 20 from 6.30pm and said he was looking forward to returning to his home town.

The cost is $10 and RSVP is required as seating is limited.

Phone 9754 4410 or email to book.

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