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“Resurrection man” is the 19th century term for a person who secretly exhumes bodies from the grave to trade or sell for personal gain. In the 1860s and 1870s, stealing remains from graves from Oyster Cove and Flinders Island was an important sideline business for the prominent Hobart lawyer Morton Allport. This illegal activity has not been publicly known in Tasmania despite having been well-documented in his business letterbooks and accessible to researchers for many decades in the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts established in 1972.
Cassandra Pybus is a distinguished historian, author of thirteen books and Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. She has been the recipient of several Australia Council Fellowships and a Federation of Australia Centenary Medal for outstanding contribution to literature. Between 2000 and 2013 she was Australian Research Council Professorial Fellow at both the University of Tasmania and the University of Sydney and has been Fulbright Professor at Georgetown University in Washington DC, Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Texas, and Leverhulme Visiting Professor at King’s College, London. Her current research interrogates the trade in First People’s skeletal remains for her forthcoming book A Very Secret Trade which is the last of a trilogy that interrogates the destruction of the First People of Tasmania, beginning with Community of Thieves, published in 1991, followed by Truganini in 2020 which won the National Biography Award.