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Christina's Matilda

Christina's Matilda by Edel Wignell
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'Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda, Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda with me?' Everyone knows the words. Many people know that the Australian poet 'Banjo' Paterson wrote them. But how may people know the origin of the tune? In 1895 a young woman named Christina Macpherson sat down and played a marching tune she'd heard. 'Banjo' Paterson, who was visiting Christina's brother, liked it and wrote the words of a song to it. That song was 'Waltzing Matilda'. 'Banjo' became famous, and so did 'Waltzing Matilda'. But Christina's part in the song's creation was forgotten and she disappeared from history until the 1970s. Come a-waltzing with Christina now and discover her story – beginning in the first year of her life, when she encountered the ruthless bushranger Dan Morgan... Edel Wignell is interested in history and folklore. Her first two collections were: A Boggle of Bunyips (1981) and A Bluey of Swaggies (1985). In the last chapter of A Bluey of Swaggies, Edel told the story of the creation of the song 'Waltzing Matilda', and included Christina Macpherson who provided the tune. Luckily, in 2002, Edel met Diana Baillieu, a great-niece of Christina, who generously shared information and photographs from the Macpherson Archive. See Edel's website: www.edelwignell.com for more information on the research and writing of this book. Edel (the name rhymes with 'medal') is a freelance writer, compiler, journalist and poet who writes for both children and adults. She has more than 90 published books, the latest being the picture-stories Long Live Us! (Interactive Publications) and Bilby Secrets (Walker Books Australia). Elizabeth Botté works long hours in her Melbourne studio, her eyes engrossed in the world of illustration, and her ears enthralled by lectures and talks from the world's wisest, together with a good dose of Radio National. Once predominantly a painter, Elizabeth has now been lured to the wonderous realm of digital illustration. She produces work for film and tv, children's games, graphic design and visualisation projects, and the odd community mural. The illustrator of over 25 titles including The Giggle Gum Tree (IP Kidz) Green Stuff For Kids (MUP) and the Touché schoolbook series (Pearson). Also she was an Extensive Reading Foundation awards finalist in 2008 and 2009.
IP (Interactive Publications); November 2010
ISBN 9781921479885
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Title: Christina's Matilda
Author: Edel Wignell; Elizabeth Botte
 
Excerpt
Who was Christina Macpherson? Most people say, 'I've never heard of her.' Who was Banjo Paterson? Most people say, 'A famous Australian poet.' They know that Andrew Barton ('Banjo') Paterson wrote the words of Australia's most popular song, 'Waltzing Matilda'. Banjo Paterson created the lyrics at the home of Christina Macpherson's brother, and she provided the tune, so why isn’t she famous too? (Illus. Suggest portrait photographs or drawings: Christina Rutherford Macpherson Andrew Barton ('Banjo') Paterson 19.6.1864 - 27.3.1936 17.2.1864 - 5.2.1941) Christina was the ninth child in a rich pastoralist family of eleven children. The Macphersons came to Victoria from Scotland in 1854 and took up land near Geelong, then in north-eastern Victoria and New South Wales and, later, in Queensland. When Christina was born, her family lived in a large house in Melbourne. Her father, Ewan Macpherson, owned a grazing property, Peechelbar, on the Ovens River, 20 miles (32 kilometres) south of Wangaratta in north-eastern Victoria. Christina became famous as a ten-month-old baby, when some members of her family had an encounter with a bushranger, Daniel Morgan, at Peechelbar! 6,7. In the early 1860s, Daniel Morgan, a violent bushranger (nicknamed 'Mad Morgan' and 'Morgan the Murderer'), operated for three years in the Riverina district of New South Wales. He became notorious for shooting unarmed and sleeping men and for escaping from the police. Once he held up a coach, and made a squatter dance for his employees and several swagmen. Dan Morgan said he would shoot any farmer who would not give rations to swagmen. They idolised him, and would never tell the police where he was hiding. In 1864, the reward for his capture was £1000. In April 1865, he crossed the Murray River and, for four days, mounted on a splendid racing mare, terrorised the district. He set fire to granaries, shot cattle, held up carriers on the Melbourne road and robbed travellers. Soon everyone knew that Morgan had arrived, and all were armed and ready. During the evening of Saturday, 8 April 1865, intending to steal a thoroughbred horse, Dan Morgan rode up to Peechelbar and bailed up the Macpherson household. He ordered the family to gather immediately in the homestead dining room. 8,9. With Mr and Mrs Macpherson were their eldest daughter Annie (aged 19), two elder sons Gideon (17) and Angus (nearly 14), baby Christina and several women, including the nursemaid Alice Keenan. In the mood for an evening of entertainment, Dan Morgan asked for music and food. The women provided supper and the family sat down at the dining table and ate with him. Meanwhile, Annie played the piano. As the evening wore on, Morgan nodded off to sleep occasionally, but he kept a revolver in his hand. Soon Alice Keenan pretended that she had heard Christina crying in the nursery, and asked to be allowed to attend to her. Morgan refused. Alice stood up, slapped his face and marched out. Morgan shrugged and did not stop her. Alice raced to the Rutherfords’ property next-door. Immediately all the men were mustered with firearms, and Mr Rutherford dashed on horseback to the Wangaratta police station, arriving at 10.30 pm. Soon 40 troopers, under the command of Superintendent Cobham, were on their way to Peechelbar, and the house was surrounded by armed men. For fear that Morgan may have started a massacre, they decided to stay where they were until dawn. Meanwhile, as Alice returned to the house, she warned John Quinlan, a young Irish station hand, about the situation indoors. When Alice went inside, Morgan said he had heard her voice, and asked who she had spoken to. Alice replied that she had spoken to the dog. All the while, baby Christina slept.