Author(s): Brenda Niall
The Boyd family is Australia's most remarkable artistic dynasty. Among the descendants of landscape painter Emma Minnie a Beckett and her husband Arthur Merric Boyd are talented painters, potters, sculptors, architects and writers, 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 a Beckett, son of Victoria's first Chief Justice. As the family's much-loved matriarch, Emma a Beckett promoted the artistic careers of her daughter Emma Minnie, son-in-law Arthur Merric Boyd and Boyd grandchildren. Niall's narrative focuses on a sequence of Boyd family houses in Australia and Europe. Her story moves from a Wiltshire manor house to a farm in Yarra Glen and a pottery in Murrumbeena, to Arthur Boyd's Suffolk retreat and David Boyd's olive grove in the South of France, and finally to Bundanon, near Nowra-the homestead that Arthur Boyd gave to the Australian people. This strategy enables her to shift the spotlight from one individual to another, and to show dramatic changes in the family fortunes in many different settings. Beautifully illustrated, "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.