Dr. Annette Tyson is a well-known local artist and assistant surgeon who is now adding another feather to her author cap, as she releases her first novel Garrow Head.
The story is set in Van Diemen’s Land in the early 19th century at a fictional location known as Garrow Head.
Although it has a strong historical background, Annette describes it as a tale of medicine, mystery and art, with a touch of romance.
“I was born in Tasmania and proud to be a descendant of colonial artist John Glover, who emigrated with his family from London in the early 19th century for unknown reasons.
“I used them as a starting point for my story,” Annette said.
“By reading Garrow Head, I hope people will develop an understanding of 19th century Van Diemen’s Land society and its impact on the Palawa (Aborigines of Tasmania).
“Many interesting people visited or lived in Van Diemen’s Land in the 1830s – the period in which my book is set.
“I have included some of these people in the story: historical figures such as Count Pawel Strzelecki, then Governor Sir John Franklin and his wife Jane, a woman many years ahead of her time who is interested in science, social reform and the education of women.”
Annette Tyson’s 10 year labor of love
Garrow Head has been a 10 year labor of love for Annette because she has led and continues to lead a very busy life.
Annette lives by the sea in Bargara with her husband and fellow doctor, John Evans.
In her early years, Annette was raising her two sons, working in the operating theaters of Bundaberg, and developing her practice of art and textile design.
Annette has always been fascinated by history and art and, as a doctor, is particularly interested in the history of medicine.
She spent many hours rummaging through used bookstores, libraries and museums.
Initially, her research was conducted when she traveled to her family cottage in Low Head, Tasmania during school holidays.
But in recent years, Annette has been able to spend more time in the area to write, paint and rejuvenate.
Some of Annette’s literary treasures include a copy of her grandmother’s nursing textbook and an original copy of her great-great-grandfather Henry Button’s book, Flotsam and Jetsam.
Annette said Henry married John Glover’s granddaughter Emma, who was a major character in the story, and he writes about Patterdale and the Glovers’ visit to Flotsam and Jetsam.
Annette has taken part in creative writing workshops organized by the Bundaberg Writers Club to improve his writing.
The first draft of the manuscript was completed in 2019, but the lengthy editing process began, Annette said it took her another two years before she felt the story was ready for publication.
Annette considered herself lucky to have found a wonderful publisher, Foot and Playsted, in Launceston, Tasmania.
Finally, in October 2022, the first copies arrived in a box on his doorstep in Bargara.
“I enjoyed researching for the book and made some fascinating discoveries along the way,” she said.
“I also enjoyed developing the characters and their universe.
“It was hard to deal with all the storylines, who was supposed to be where and when, and who knew something someone else didn’t.
“The editing process was the hardest part of all.
“I hadn’t realized that writing the ending on the manuscript was actually just the beginning of the process.”
Annette Tyson said she looked forward to readings at local bookstores and at the Bundaberg Library.