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Travelling to Tomorrow

The modern women who sparked Australia’s romance with America

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A celebrity decorator with blue hair. A single mother who advised JFK in the Oval Office. A Christian nudist with a passion for almond milk.

A century ago, ten Australian women did something remarkable. Throwing convention to the wind, they headed across the Pacific to make their fortune. In doing so, they reoriented Australia towards the United States years before politicians began to lumber down the same path.

For the artist Mary Cecil Allen, this meant spreading the word about American abstract expressionism. For the naturopath Alice Caporn, it meant evangelising fruit juices and salads. For the swimmer Isabel Letham, it was teaching synchronised swimming. Others imported the latest thinking in dentistry, fashion, design, economics, law, music, medicine and more. They were rebels, they were trailblazers, they were disruptors. Individually, they have extraordinary stories; together, they change the narrative of Australian history.

‘Thoughtful and curious, critical and kind, Yves Rees’s study of these globetrotting Australian women richly renders their lives and times, as well as contemplating how we reach across time to read them today.’ – Anna Clark, Australian Research Council Future Fellow, University of Technology Sydney

‘Fresh, captivating, and full of fantastic women. Yves has somehow managed to assemble the greatest fantasy dinner party you never knew you needed, whilst also uncovering a fascinating and untold side of our history. A real treat.’ – Zoë Coombs Marr, comedian, performer and actor

‘Yves Rees has the remarkable ability to bring history into the present, reminding us all that the only thing that really separates the generations is a linear notion of time. Travelling to Tomorrow gives voice to the women at the forefront of Australia’s own “American Revolution”. What I love most about Yves is how they bring an unwavering commitment to human rights in their exploration of history, the language of equality ever-present in their handling of the past. In Rees, we have found a historian of rare skill – they possess the ability to tell us something we didn’t know about something we thought we did.’ – Clementine Ford, feminist writer, columnist and broadcaster

‘This book is a knockout. Yves Rees is that rare historian who thinks like a scholar and writes like a dream – the literary equivalent to floating like a butterflying and stinging like a bee. You will want to meet these fearless and feisty women: women not only before their time in forging new geocultural paths to independence but also making their times by putting flesh to the bones of modernity. Rees gives us their stories in full-bodied, hot-blooded fashion. A sheer delight.’ – Professor Clare Wright OAM, Professor of History, La Trobe University

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