On Backstory this week, Mel Cranenburgh is joined by author, Moreno Giovannoni, whose book The Fireflies of Autumn:And Other Tales of San Ginese explores tales of war and migration, feasts and misfortunes – of a people and their place over the course of the twentieth century in an imaginary Tuscan village. Moreno Giovannoni was born in San Ginese but grew up in a house on a hill, on a tobacco farm at Buffalo River in north-east Victoria. He is a freelance translator of long standing.
Mel then speaks to Michael Veitch, performer, writer and broadcaster, about his latest work Hellship which documents the fate of the emigrant clipper Ticonderoga and its passengers. Shortly after crossing the equator, typhus had erupted throughout her decks, and in just a few weeks, one hundred of her mainly Highland Scots emigrants had perished, hastily buried at sea with what little ceremony could be afforded. Forbidden to enter Melbourne, the Ticonderoga was made to offload her human cargo onto a small beach inside the heads where, for the next six weeks, a makeshift quarantine hospital was established. Through the tireless efforts of the ship’s young surgeon, Veitch’s great-grandfather, aided by a handful of passengers, including a courageous young Scots woman from the Isle of Mull (his great-grandmother), many lives were saved. Hellship is a book, a play and has a soundtrack by Veitch’s son, Thomas Veitch and Rose Hampton.