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Author in conversation: Maggie Black

  • Date recorded: 6 Oct 2016

  • Duration: 45:36

'I live in the purgatory between the lot of a common farmer, and that of a gentleman.'

–Niel Black

About this video

Author Maggie Black talks with historian Peter Yule about her book Up came a squatter, the story of her great-grandfather Niel Black, who arrived in Melbourne from Scotland in 1839 intending to make his fortune.

Ambitious and determined, Black became one of the most successful and energetic squatters in the Western District of Victoria.

He was also a correspondent extraordinaire, and his archive of letters to family, fellow pastoralists, colonial officials and his chief UK business partner make up 152 boxes in the Library's collection. 

Maggie discusses Black's motivations for coming to Australia, his runs at Glenormiston and The Sisters, his relationships with the Indigenous people and the local squatting community, the challenges of making the transition from tenant farmer to 'squattocracy', and the problems of the selection acts which went on to influence the shape of regional Victoria.

Maggie also responds to questions from the audience.


Peter Yule: historian
Maggie Black: author