Meg Vivers (nee Margaret Atkinson) grew up on a large cattle station in outback Queensland, Australia. After studying at home by correspondence she went away to boarding school for five years. She then worked in Sydney, before marrying and returning to the ‘bush’ in northern New South Wales.
Meg’s interest in art and poetry began as a small child. Black and white drawings of her rural surroundings evolved into colour after studying as an adult with the abstract artist Estelle Cotsell. Her vibrant paintings hang in private and public spaces in Australia and beyond. Also inspired by the Australian landscape, her poetry has been published in local poetry books and journals.
As a mature-age student, Meg enrolled in tertiary studies at the University of New England, Armidale. There, she was awarded a BA(Hons1) degree. In 2007 she completed a PhD in Australian History, for which she studied original colonial writings and paintings, and explored how such texts might play a part in better understanding Australia’s history.
Meg’s first book, Mick and the Manager: Two Goondiwindi Cattlemen is a dual biography. It tells the factual story of an Aboriginal stockman and a station manager who worked together in outback Australia. The book, set between 1900 and the 1970, reveals ways in which the Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act of 1897 impacted on the lives of Aboriginal people, and also on the lives of those employed to administer the Act. The ‘Manager’ was Meg’s father, so this book is, in many ways, also an autobiography.
Her second book, Castle to Colony: the Remarkable Life and Times of Lucy Sarah Gray (1840–1879), has been structured around findings that emerged during research for Meg’s Honors and PhD. Also a biography, the book explores the life and achievements of Lucy Sarah Gray, from her childhood in Ireland to her experiences in colonial New Zealand and Australia – in particular the colony of Queensland. Many of Gray’s sophisticated watercolour paintings and drawings are included in the book, as are extracts from letters, journals and diaries. These written and pictorial texts provide a fascinating perspective on colonial life.
An Irish Engineer: the Extraordinary Achievements of Thomas J Waters and Family in Early Meiji Japan and Beyond is a natural progression from Castle to Colony, with emphasis on the lives and achievements of male members of Lucy Gray’s family. The entrepreneurial, engineering and architectural skills of the Waters brothers took them around the world during the second half of the nineteenth century. As in the previous book, extracts from correspondence, diaries and journals are included. Thomas Waters was particularly active as an engineer and architect in Japan during the early stages of the Meiji Restoration (from 1868) and many of his imaginative designs are also included in the book. Irish Engineer is presently being translated into Japanese, and will be published in Tokyo.
Meg lives with her husband, Allan, on a small farm near Armidale in northern New South Wales, Australia. In her spare time she paints impressions of Australian landscapes and writes poetry. Her latest book of poetry, Brigalow, reflects the author’s love of the Australian bush.
Meg Vivers is presently an Honorary Associate of the School of Humanities at the University of New England. She can be contacted through the Contact page or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Details can also be accessed on Facebook.