How the Nation Responded to the Loss of Azaria Chamberlain
The Azaria Chamberlain case was one of the most followed and documented murder trials in Australia's history. As Lindy Chamberlain mourned the death of her baby daughter Azaria, taken by a dingo from a campsite at Uluru in 1980, she was tried and convicted in the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory. The nation responded with grief, rage, prejudice and remorse to Lindy directly, through thousands of letters.
In the forthcoming book Dear Lindy author and playwright Alana Valentine provides a selection of letters sent to Lindy throughout her ordeal, as shared in Alana's play, Letters to Lindy. The public made their own ruling in the case that divided Australia, shown in the hurtful, supportive, accusatory or sympathetic letters received by Lindy. Some of the letters are full of vitriol; some include bizarre theories. More are compassionate, sent by mothers, by people of faith or by those who had suffered similar tragedies. We hear directly from Lindy too, in candid conversations with the author, her foreword and a letter she wrote to her 16-year-old self. Dear Lindy is a fascinating time capsule of 1980s and 1990s Australia, reflecting our changing attitudes to Lindy Chamberlain and how far we've come as a nation.
Alana Valentine is an acclaimed playwright and award-winning author. In 2013, she won three Australian Writers' Guild Awards, including the Major Award and the inaugural David Williamson Award for excellence in writing for the Australian stage. In the same year, she received a Harold White Fellowship to research the Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton collection at the National Library of Australia. This resulted in the 2016 Merrigong Theatre production of Letters to Lindy, touring to Canberra and Sydney, with further touring scheduled nation-wide in 2018. She has also been awarded a Centenary Medal for her work for the Centenary of Federation, an Australian Prime Ministers Centre Fellowship and a Churchill Fellowship. Her plays Parramatta Girls and Soft Revolution are on the New South Wales school syllabus.
Author: Alana Valentine