David Unaipon - Biography - Writer and Lecturer

Writer and Lecturer

Unaipon was obsessed with correct English and in speaking tended to use classical English rather than that in common usage. His written language followed the style of John Milton and John Bunyan.

Unaipon was inquisitively religious, believing in an equivalence of traditional Aboriginal and Christian spirituality. His employment with the Aborigines' Friends' Association collecting subscription money allowed him to travel widely. The travel brought him into contact with many intelligent people sympathetic with the cause of Aboriginal rights, and gave him the opportunity to lecture on Aboriginal culture and rights. Although he was much in demand as a public speaker he was often refused accommodation and refreshment due to his race.

Unaipon was the first Aboriginal writer to publish in English, the author of numerous articles in newspapers and magazines, including the Sydney Daily Telegraph, retelling traditional stories and arguing for the rights of Aborigines.

Some of Unaipon's traditional Aboriginal stories were published in a 1930 book, Myths and Legends of the Australian Aboriginals, under the name of anthropologist William Ramsay Smith. They have recently been republished in their original form, under the author's name, as Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines.

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