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Set in 1917, Gathering follows the journey of Ellen Eagleton, a classical scholar who is frustrated by her attempts to advance her theories in Europe, and heads for Australia to find a connection to the mystical beginnings of humanity through a study of Indigenous Australians. She is accompanied by her lover, the much younger James Priest, and all the prejudices of early anthropology. She arrives in Melbourne careless of the potential scandal her domestic arrangements might cause in an unsophisticated small town and convinced she can trace the beginnings of the human spirit. She begins by interrogating her Koori domestic servant Estelle. Estelle has little knowledge of her heritage, and wants none and Ellen’s questions are unwelcome – as is James’ collection of Indigenous skulls. Ellen and James encounter the local scholar Penniman and his daughter Mary. James proposes marriage to Mary – and leaves Ellen feeling betrayed and abandoned. Ellen and Estelle build a relationship as Ellen struggles to come to terms with James’ betrayal.
GATHERING was the subject of an Eleanor Dark Fellowship at Varuna, the Writer's House in 1998. Submitted in total fulfillment for the degree of Master of Arts at the University of Melbourne 2005