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Danielle Clode

Danielle Clode

Danielle Clode is an author and associate professor in creative writing at Flinders University whose first book, Continents of Curiosities, was inspired by the natural history collections of Museums Victoria. Her book Voyages to the South Seas won the Victorian Premier’s Award for Non-fiction in 2007. In 2014 she was the ABR Dahl Trust Fellow and her article ‘Seeing the Wood for the Trees’ appeared in the November 2014 issue of ABR. Her latest book is Koala: A life in trees (2022). 

Danielle Clode reviews 'The Naturalist of Amsterdam' by Melissa Ashley

December 2023, no. 460 27 November 2023
What child has not been fascinated to watch the miraculous metamorphosis of a hungry caterpillar to pupae and then butterfly in a glass jar on the table? This transformation is such an everyday part of our ecological awareness as to be almost child’s play. What was once the cutting-edge technology of scientific observation – the transparent glass isolation chamber, the magnifying lens, and the ... (read more)

Danielle Clode reviews 'Big Meg: The story of the largest and most mysterious predator that ever lived' by Tim Flannery and Emma Flannery

November 2023, no. 459 24 September 2023
Megalodon, the famed prehistoric shark, is the stuff of legends. Their huge teeth – as big as the palm of a hand – fuel unquenchable rumours of their continued survival, a plethora of implausible YouTube videos, and the devoted fascination of a legion of children. Megalodon presents as a formidable prehistoric predator of epic proportions. But just how big was it? Like the fish that got away, ... (read more)

Danielle Clode reviews 'Goldfish in the Parlour: The Victorian craze for marine life' by John Simons

July 2023, no. 455 27 June 2023
The image of a solitary goldfish aimlessly circling in a glass bowl recurs in cartoons and children’s books, a metaphor for a crowded and over-scrutinised life. John Simons’s account of the mid-nineteenth-century aquarium craze reveals the rather horrifying historical reality of this mostly symbolic image. At the height of the craze for aquariums, not only were resilient goldfish kept in bowls ... (read more)

Danielle Clode reviews 'The Plant Thieves: Secrets of the Herbarium' by Prudence Gibson

June 2023, no. 454 24 May 2023
Herbariums are strange places. Part archive, part library, part museum collection, they hover in a space of plant, paper, print, and preservative. Time and space are pressed between pages representing far more than their often unprepossessing appearance suggests – complex interwoven stories of evolution, ecology, and scientific history. The herbarium is a compactus of shared and public scientifi ... (read more)

Danielle Clode reviews 'The Naturalist: The remarkable life of Allan Riverstone McCulloch' by Brendan Atkins

December 2022, no. 449 25 November 2022
The Australian Museum is starting to develop something of a literary landscape of its own. This is not so much through official publications such as Ronald Strahan’s Rare and Curious Specimens (1979) or the flagship magazine in its various incarnations from Australian Natural History to Explore. Rather, it is through more creative or expansive stories of the weird, wonderful, and personable, fro ... (read more)

Danielle Clode reviews 'Rose: The extraordinary voyage of Rose de Freycinet, the stowaway who sailed around the world for love' by Suzanne Falkiner

August 2022, no. 445 28 July 2022
The great age of sail – of European exploration and colonisation – is typically depicted as trenchantly masculine, with the only ‘women’ being unpredictable ships and the sea itself. Women have traditionally been considered bad luck, distracting, or not tough enough for life at sea. Nonetheless, historical research is increasingly revealing that many women played active roles at sea, as co ... (read more)

Danielle Clode reviews 'A Letter to Layla: Travels to our deep past and near future' by Ramona Koval

November 2020, no. 426 22 October 2020
A Letter to Layla is very much a book of our times. Its impetus lies in our rapidly changing climate, and it concludes with the unexpected impact of Covid-19. In between, the book explores both our distant past and our future. Well known for her past career as an ABC broadcaster, Ramona Koval turns her talent for in-depth interviews and her training in science into an engaging and illuminating bo ... (read more)

Danielle Clode reviews 'The Colonial Kangaroo Hunt' by Ken Gelder and Rachael Weaver

August 2020, no. 423 27 July 2020
As generations of Australian tourists have found, the kangaroo is a far more recognisable symbol of nationality than our generic colonial flag. Both emblematic and problematic, this group of animals has long occupied a significant and ambiguous space in the Australian psyche. Small wonder, then, that Ken Gelder and Rachael Weaver have found such rich material through which to explore our colonial ... (read more)

Danielle Clode reviews 'Botanical Revelation: European encounters with Australian plants before Darwin' by David J. Mabberley

March 2020, no. 419 24 February 2020
Plants are one of the first things you notice when you arrive in Australia: the swathes of olive-green trees and a crisp eucalypt scent on the air. It was the first thing many explorers noted, too, whether in Abel Tasman’s 1642 description of an ‘abundance of timber’ or in Willem de Vlamingh’s 1694 descriptions of trees ‘dripping with gum’ and the ‘whole land filled with the fine ple ... (read more)

Danielle Clode reviews 'Idling in Green Places: A life of Alec Chisholm' by Russell McGregor

January–February 2020, no. 418 16 December 2019
Australian nature writing has come a long way in recent years. Not only do we have an abundance of contemporary nature writers, but we are also rediscovering the ones we have forgotten. The neglect of Australia’s nature writing history, with its contributions to science, literature, and conservation, is happily being redressed with recent biographies of Jean Galbraith, Rica Erickson, Edith Colem ... (read more)
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