Sam, Grace and the Shipwreck launched at State Library of WA
14th October 2011
CEO and State Librarian Margaret Allen launched a new picture book and exhibition about a unique event in Western Australia’s history at The Place on 13 October 2011.
Sam, Grace and the Shipwreck by Michelle Gillespie and Sonia Martinez is the true story of Grace Bussell and Aboriginal stockman Sam Isaacs’ daring Christmas rescue of passengers on the Georgette; a ship wrecked off the coast of Western Australia in 1876.
Author Michelle Gillespie, who started the book in her final year of high school, acknowledged Sam and Grace for their heroism and thanked descendents of the Bussell family (many of whom attended the launch) for their help with the book.
“I felt I had a responsibility to get the story as close to what actually happened as possible and I went to great lengths to do the research, spending a lot of time lost in historical records at the Battye Library,” said Gillespie.
The launch also marked the start of a month-long exhibition featuring Sonia Martinez’s beautiful artworks alongside artefacts from the Library’s Bussell Collection.
Martinez, whose first book with bestselling author Craig Silvey earned her a coveted CBCA Crichton Award for Best New Illustrator, said she was excited about exhibiting her artwork at the State Library of Western Australia.
“The fact that the library purchased a painting from my first picture book The World According to Warren was fantastic, the fact that they want to show more of my work is even better,” said Gillespie.
Margaret Allen said the story was an important part of WA’s cultural heritage.
“ Sam, Grace and the Shipwreck will introduce a new generation of Western Australian children to two inspiring local heroes,” said Allen.
Gillespie said she hoped her picture book would re-introduce Sam Isaacs as an integral part of the rescue effort.
“Most of the sources indicated that the rescue was as a result of teamwork and yet Grace got a silver medal and most of the acclaim while Aboriginal stockman Sam only got a bronze,” said Gillespie.
“I’ve tried to get this amazing local story as close as possible to what actually happened, not what was focussed on by the media at that time,” said Gillespie.
About the book
In 1876, the steamer Georgette was on its way to Adelaide when it came into trouble not far from the mouth of the Margaret River. Sam Isaacs, an Aboriginal stockman who worked on the family property of the pioneering Bussell family, spotted the ship in distress. He rode back to the homestead calling for help. Sixteen year-old Grace Bussell leapt to action and rode out with Sam towards the rocky beach. Together, they pushed their horses through the surf and helped those passengers who struggled to reach the shore. Sam, Grace and the Shipwreck is a story of two people, who despite their different backgrounds worked as a team, and to put others first.
For more information please contact Claire Miller, email@example.com