That Bligh Girl is a new historical novel from Sue Williams, following her best-selling fiction debut with Elizabeth & Elizabeth. This time, it’s the fascinating story of Governor Bligh’s ‘firebrand’ daughter, Mary, a powerful and determined woman — definitely no shrinking violet. After an horrific six-month sea voyage from Britain, Mary proves she is as strong-willed as her bloody-minded father, the newly appointed Governor William Bligh, he of Bounty mutiny notoriety, and the pair immediately scandalise Sydney.
But despite being bullied, belittled and betrayed, Mary remains steadfast, even when her desperate father double-crosses her yet again in his final attempt to cling onto power.
While researching Elizabeth & Elizabeth, Sue was intrigued by the life of Mary Bligh and found it had a few touchpoints with her own. Both Mary and Sue grew up in London, spent time in Portsmouth, lived in Potts Point and are daughters of a strong-willed father.
Publishers Allen & Unwin say, ‘Sue Williams returns to give a voice to the previously untold stories of the women in colonial Sydney. Sue is known for her meticulous research and fascinating narratives. That Bligh Girl is no exception.’
Sue says, ‘When I came to live in Australia, 32 years ago, I was startled that so many Australians didn’t know much of their own fascinating history either. So I started studying it and, inspired, started looking for exceptional characters I could write about.’
Publication date: May 2, 2023, rrp 32.99 Allen & Unwin
That Bligh Girl has been chosen by the National Trust of Australia for an official launch at the heritage-listed Old Government House, Parramatta on May 11, from 11am-12pm.