The Boyds

Brenda Niall

The Boyds
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The Boyds

Brenda Niall

The Boyd family is Australia’s most remarkable artistic dynasty. Among the descendants of landscape painter Emma Minnie Beckett and her husband Arthur Merric Boyd are talented painters, potters, sculptors, architects, writers and musicians, several of international standing. This ‘family biography’ by award-winning writer Brenda Niall traces the emergence of an extraordinary artistic tradition. She places the Boyds in their historical and personal contexts, tells the interwoven stories of their brilliant careers, and analyses the shaping influences on their lives. Most remarkable is the story, told here for the first time, of heiress Emma Mills-a convict’s daughter who in 1855 married William Beckett, son of Victoria’s first Chief Justice, and as the family’s much-loved matriarch, promoted the artistic careers of her family. Niall’s narrative shifts the spotlight from one family member to another, showing the dramatic changes in the family fortunes by moving between a sequence of Boyd family houses in Australian and Europe-a Wiltshire manor house, a farm in Yarra Glen, a pottery in Murumbeena, Arthur Boyd’s Suffolk retreat, David Boyd’s olive grove in the South of France and, finally, Bundanoon near Nowra-the homestead that Arthur Boyd gave to the Australian people. The Boyds is based on family papers, letters and diaries and a wide range of interviews. Moving from 1840s Melbourne to the present day, it covers a vast territory while reading with the ease of a novel.

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