Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Kate Grenville's The Secret River. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
The Secret River: Context
The Secret River: Plot Summary
The Secret River: Detailed Summary & Analysis
The Secret River: Themes
The Secret River: Quotes
The Secret River: Characters
The Secret River: Symbols
The Secret River: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Kate Grenville
Historical Context of The Secret River
Other Books Related to The Secret River
- Full Title: The Secret River
- When Written: 2000-2005
- Where Written: New South Wales, Australia
- When Published: 2005
- Literary Period: Contemporary
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Setting: London, England and the penal colony of New South Wales, Australia; 1777 to the mid 1820s
- Climax: When Thornhill participates in the massacre of Aborigines at Thomas Blackwood's homestead
- Antagonist: Though the antagonist is primarily poverty and the English justice system, Thornhill himself, as well as his fellow settlers on the river, are an arguably larger threat to both the Aboriginal people and to their own sense of humanity.
- Point of View: Third person
Extra Credit for The Secret River
Drafts. The Secret River took five years and twenty drafts to write. The first handwritten draft of the novel was included in a 2010 exhibition at the Mitchell Library in New South Wales titled 100 Objects, which was part of the Mitchell Library's centenary celebration.
A River of Blood. The title for The Secret River is borrowed from the anthropologist W. E. H. Stanner. He wrote about a "secret river of blood flowing through Australia's history," which refers to the violent treatment of Aboriginal people by white colonizers.