Published in the United States on May 29 as THE UNTOLD.

“A captivating, epic novel that never loses its heart to scope, The Untold is a surreal saga set in a rugged, unforgiving landscape. Courtney Collins paints a devastating portrait of long-shot love.” Patrick deWitt author of the #1 international bestseller, The Sisters Brothers

“This extraordinary novel – propelled by the dark, rich, talents of a truly brilliant writer – dazzles, staggers and amazes.” Elizabeth Gilbert author of Eat, Pray, Love.

<<<Buy the book>>>  


<<<Buy the book>>>  

A woman has done an unspeakable thing…

It is 1921. In a mountain-locked valley, amid squalls of driving rain, Jessie is on the run. Born wild and brave, by 26 she has already lived life as a circus rider, horse and cattle rustler and convict. But on this fateful night she is just a woman wanting to survive though there is barely any life left in her. She mounts her horse and points it towards the highest mountain in sight. Soon bands of men will crash through the bushland desperate to claim the reward on her head. And in their wake will be two more men, one her lover, the other the law, both uncertain if they should save her or themselves. But as it has always been for Jessie, it is death, not a man, who is her closest pursuer and companion. And while all odds are stacked against her, there is one who will never give up on her – her own child, who awaits her. The Burial, both heartbreaking and exhilarating, ultimately sings out for life and then grips onto it, with tooth and broken nail.

 What readers have said…

‘Lyrical and delirious. Oozes a febrility that stays with you when it’s over.’ – Warren Ellis, musician, The Dirty Three; Grinderman

‘Your prose just slays me: utterly exquisite. No matter how many times I read this ms, I am bowled over by it every time.’ – Ali Lavau, editor, Allen & Unwin

The Burial is stunning. Such beautiful writing. Such a voice. It affects me physically to read this.’Peta Murray, playwright, Wallflowering; Salt 

47 Responses to “THE BURIAL”

  1. Martha Landman August 26, 2012 at 1:26 am #

    The most incredible and astounding prose I have read in a long long time.

  2. Robyn Myhill September 12, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

    Fiction does not usually capture my interest in writings but The Burial was enthralling! Congratulations Courtney, beautifully written!

  3. J Dunlop October 6, 2012 at 7:02 am #

    Dear Courtney , Its Jo’s parents and we would love to come to your tea party launch on Sunday if possible . I have heard great reviews about your book .Congratulations . J & G Singleton

  4. Mary Nolan December 1, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

    I’ve just started it and it is beautifully written. I wonder were you inspired at all by, or have you read, Toni Morrison’s Beloved?

    • courtneyleecollins December 9, 2012 at 4:08 am #

      Thanks Mary. And thanks for reminding me about Toni Morrison’s Beloved.
      I haven’t read it in about 15 years ago but it haunted me significantly at the time. So, although I wasn’t conscious of it, it was one of those head and heart shifting books. That sounds like inspiration to me!

  5. Rebecca Rushbrook January 22, 2013 at 4:08 am #

    Hey Ms Collins! I just finished your book- in 2 days! Beautiful writing, I loved it. Biggest congratulations! I thought you’d love to know that I showed it to my Mum and she exclaimed that she had already read it (independently of me) and had recommended it to my Aunty and Nanna as something wonderful. She was excited that I knew you and wanted you to know that she really loved the way it was written. Can’t wait for your next one!

  6. lloyd INGRAM January 23, 2013 at 3:14 am #

    very well written dear courtney, I enjoyed the whole book from beginning to end. The story just kept flowing & breezing along making it very hard to put down for necessary breaks etc.Waiting for your follow up endeavour with excitement plus.Cheers for now—Lloyd Ingram. xxx

  7. Megan Bartley March 8, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    Hi Courtney, I just finished the book – I loved it. Really well written. I couldn’t help but to think of the parallels in modern time. Women are still judged more harshly than their male counterparts.

  8. Maureen Baker March 19, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

    Our book club has just read your book.Although none of us actually like the book it created a great amount of discussion,much more than some books we all liked.We were wondering what motivated the telling of the story through the dead babie’s eyes? This aspect disturbed some of our members.

    • courtneyleecollins March 20, 2013 at 12:40 am #

      Hi Maureen,

      Thanks for getting in touch. And thanks for your frankness!

      In an attempt to answer your question, I had a strong sense that the voice of the book had to be ‘from the earth’. Jessie’s story is one of those buried stories after all. To me, Jessie was a woman of few words. She was a woman of action. So her voice was limiting. I began to think of the dead baby as all of that innocence that Jessie had to burry in herself in order to survive. I see the baby and its consciousness as very much a part of her.

      Thanks for giving time to The Burial. I’m happy to hear that it generated a great amount of discussion.

      All best to you and your book club,


  9. Cheryl Staddon March 31, 2013 at 8:53 am #

    Hi Courtney,

    Cheryl from the Syd 4 SSE group and I have just finished your book in record time. It was an absolutely brilliant read, thoroughly compelling, dark and disturbing and so beautifully written, with characters that I really felt did not want to say goodbye to at the end.

    Our book club is reading The Burial now on my recommendation and I can’t wait to have the discussion with them.

    I will be eagerly await your next book and congratulations on such a successful first novel.

    Cheryl xx

  10. fleafla May 8, 2013 at 1:35 am #

    I’m trying to send it to my sister for her birthday- but I can’t. Allen and Unwin says problem with distribution and can’t even take my order! Is this because it’s wildly successful and is being reprinted? How can I get it?

  11. sarah Faulkner May 18, 2013 at 10:07 am #

    I just wanted to write and let you know that i have been hugely affected reading The Burial. It reminds me of Literature that is uncompromising and raw, like Sonia Hartnetts stories about kids and dogs and small towns, These books cut straight to the bone. It is great to find a new writer who has this talent, whose first novel is full of guts and tells an astounding tale with such an enormous physical presence. The Burial has gripped me and held me fast. Im bowled over and will spread the word ,Big thanks

    • courtneyleecollins May 18, 2013 at 11:29 am #

      Dear Sarah,

      Thanks for your lovely message. I’m so pleased that The Burial took you on this ride and I’m chuffed that it reminded you of the writing of the wonderful Sonya Hartnett.

      I’m in the middle of packing to head to Sydney tomorrow for a week at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. If you are close to Sydney, come along. There’s a couple of events where I’ll be talking about the writing of The Burial and also my new novel, The Walkman Mix, which is a work in progress.

      This link should take you to the list of events.

      Sydney Writers’ Festival

      All the very best to you, Sarah.


  12. Karen June 28, 2013 at 3:47 am #

    Just loved it! A female Heroine! I have just finished the book and felt the need to say how much I thoroughly enjoyed the book! Well done Courtney!! It is our book for the month for book club and I now need to get my thoughts together on discussing it. So excited to discuss this story. I live in the Hunter and imagined the story being set around the Barrington Tops or the Broke Ranges or the like. I so hope Jack and Jessie a future together!!

    • courtneyleecollins August 3, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

      Dear Karen,

      Thanks for writing. The Widden Valley isn’t far from the Barrington Tops and the terrain is very similar. If you look on a map you’ll see the Wollemi National Park that begins behind Denman and the Bylong Valley. That’s where Jessie Hickman roamed. I hope the book inspired some hearty discussion! Courtney

  13. Paul August 3, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

    Read some great reviews and now really looking forward to Reading the book.

    • courtneyleecollins August 3, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

      Hi Paul,

      I’m so pleased the reviews have had that effect! Of course, the book won’t let you down. I can vouch for it. Courtney

  14. Shelagh August 12, 2013 at 6:29 am #

    Courtney, thanks for a great read, a very vivid world that I was sad to leave. Looking forward to your next book.

  15. common Mouse behavoir August 22, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

    First off I would like to say fantastic blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing. I’ve had trouble clearing my thoughts in
    getting my ideas out there. I do enjoy writing however
    it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost simply
    just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or hints?

    • courtneyleecollins September 1, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

      Hello Common Mouse Behavoir,

      10 to 15 minutes is no time at all really. Sometimes you might need to wait for hours. But just keep breathing and keep the pen in your hand and something will happen.


  16. Raymond Crane August 30, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    I am a writer, and a student of writing, so these days I don’t have much time to read. If all that is said about your novel is the least bit true I will take the time. Tell me is it available as an E-BOOK or can I buy it in an Adelaide bookshop. blessyou Raymond.

  17. Liz Butcher November 15, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    Dear Courtney Collins
    I loved the raw quality of this book – it just raced along and I lived and breathed it.

    I’ve misunderstood something though I think – please could you tell me the identity of the body in the legiron on page 2?

    Kind regards Liz Butcher

    • courtneyleecollins November 18, 2013 at 6:27 am #

      Hi Liz,

      In ‘Prelude to Death’ Houdini has disturbed the body of Septimus, Jessie’s father, from his watery grave. You might remember Aoife, Jessie’s mother, tips him into the river? She has attached a leg iron to his ankle to make sure his body will sink. And it did.

      So many lives overlap in the telling, and bodies too!

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Best regards to you,


      • Liz Butcher November 18, 2013 at 8:05 am #

        Dear Courtney
        Thanks so much for this. I’ll re-read now – and get much more I think!
        Best wishes Liz

  18. Gilles Leimdorfer November 20, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    I’m reading your book in Paris, France.
    Your words are travelling fast and strong. They will be with me for a long time. Thank you.
    Gilles Leimdorfer

    • courtneyleecollins November 21, 2013 at 2:57 am #

      Dear Gilles,

      Thank you for getting in touch. Unfortunately, I can’t read French but I am told the translation done by Erika Abrams is really something special. So the book you have in your hands exists in large part because of her sensitivity to the language and the landscape of the place. I hope the words carry you through.

  19. Jordi Sellarès February 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm #


    I’m reading an advanced version of the Spanish translation of your book, as an assignement of my “Editing and publishing course” teacher. While still cannot say I liked a lot the novel (I barely read 60 pages), I must say that so far I’ve found it quite strong and disturbing. Somehow made me recall “El llano en llamas” stories by Juan Rulfo for its oppressive atmosphere and some of the early Yu Hua’s stories for its cold and violent touch. I’m sure I’ll like it a lot once I’ve finished it.

    • Jordi Sellarès February 14, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

      Finished it. I’d liked it a lot. Congratulations!!

      • courtneyleecollins April 28, 2014 at 5:57 am #

        Thanks Jordi Sellarès. I was holding my breath.

  20. Sean A. Barker July 31, 2014 at 11:24 pm #

    The words leap from the pages as though they have an existential voice that found paper suitable for binding to the material world..this is a book from heart, mind and soul and I am so glad to have found your voice, as will others.

  21. Randy Hillier September 4, 2014 at 6:42 am #

    I have a cabin in the Sierra’s in California which I call my sanctuary and it is here I just completed “The Untold”
    You are a beam of light by which you brought forth not just the story that needed to be told but the story that lives in the bones of our female ancestors and speaks to the world down under. To the dirt that forms Gaia and the wild woman whom we always need a reminder to connect to. The place where we can howl and only be heard by all sentient beings. Thank you for sharing your wild and spirited self through beautiful prose.

  22. Dianne Moore (nee Pryor) September 20, 2014 at 3:30 am #

    As the grand-daughter of Jessie Hickman I cannot let this go by without adding my protest.. The Burial is a travesty of my grandmother, making her out to be a bloodthirsty murderer of her own child. In fact, Jessie was born to poverty,given to a circus aged eight and had to fend for herself from there on. She grew up to be an independent, courageous woman, perhaps even one of the earlier seekers for equality for women. Yes, she chose to be an outlaw, cattle duffer, horse thief but murderer… never! My family and I are highly offended by the misinformation and calumny.which has been directed at the character in The Burial specifically identified as Jessie Hickman. For anyone seeking the real Jessie Hickman read “Out of the Mists, The Hidden History of Elizabeth Jessie Hickman” I suggest that a pubaalic apology for the distress caused this family would only be a courtesy..

    • courtneyleecollins September 20, 2014 at 6:09 am #

      Dear Dianne,
      I’m afraid your reading of the character of Jessie as a bloodthirsty murderer is not what I intended at all. But that is your reading. For me, Jessie’s act of killing her premature child is an act of compassion. It is also worth restating that the book is a work of fiction. My view is that there is room for more than one telling of a historical (and now mythologised) figure and fiction can go places non fiction can’t. So I wish you all the best in finding an audience for your book “Out of the Mists, The Hidden History of Elizabeth Jessie Hickman”.
      Courtney Collins

  23. Kevin October 11, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

    Courtney I want thank you for putting a fine piece of work out there. The writing and the tale work so well together. Thanks.

  24. Deborah July 22, 2015 at 9:58 am #

    Dear Ms. Collins – for your work Untold, humble thanks. Profound and shocking to the core. I wept on page 12. “forward and back I have tracked her.” Then regularly thereafter, though I am not the weeping type. Every sentence finds its mark. I wonder -has practice given you the ability to write this raw and heightened prose without falling into bed exhausted each night? Remarkable. Beautiful. And most of all, moving: I want to stand atop that mountain and howl to the gods. Just howl. As there is nothing else to be done. You have said it and said it well.

    I love the title Untold and wonder how it is to be construed as American.

  25. Kevin Horan August 4, 2015 at 7:10 am #

    Hey Courtney,
    I am recently retired school teacher now living in Los Angeles and spend an inordinate amount of time reading. Several years ago, I decided to investigate Australian Literature starting with Tim Winton’s “Cloudstreet’. a nice start
    “The Untold” is a wonderful piece of historical fiction filled with dialogue that speaks from the heart.
    The scene of Barlow and Jack Brown shooting up completely surprised me. You almost feel the drug go into your veins..The description may be one of the most vivid and mesmerizing images I have ever read.
    Thanks again for this great read.
    Kevin Horan
    Marina Del Rey, CA

  26. LCR April 4, 2016 at 7:57 pm #

    Pretty interesting book

  27. paulastevenson September 16, 2016 at 8:57 pm #

    Hi Courtney;
    I am looking forward to seeing you in November at the Scone Writers festival; I am trying to create an opening address with the theme Connections and I wondered if you could let me know of your connections with Scone and the local area?,with thanks Paula Stevenson

  28. Emma Foster February 15, 2017 at 10:24 am #

    Oh my, Courtney. I have come late to The Burial and wish so desperately that I’d have come to it earlier. What a tale, told so well, from such a unique perspective. From the first intriguing line through to the last. Why, oh why had I not heard of Australia’s last lady bushranger? I feel richer for knowing Jessie, so thank you! I can’t wait for your next novel to surface. And look forward to seeing you again one day. Emma x

  29. Sean Barker February 28, 2018 at 6:02 pm #

    Hi Courtney just read a poem at Audreys bookstore, Edmonton Alberta. Actually I told the gang it was an excerpt from a song so I guess you could call it a tweet if you get my meaning. Stroll of Poets Association is an affiliate of The Writer’s Guild of Alberta. Anyway after getting through a cold January escape watching The Australian Open, I wanted to remind you I first read your book “The Burial” in the Canadian Rockies and that your writing style deeply impacted me! Before winter’s end I will get your new book and recommend it to the book reading club at Edmonton public library. Look forward to reading Courtney Collins fan,
    Sean B.

  30. Randall April 12, 2018 at 6:13 pm #

    Courtney, I loved your book “The Untold” US release. When you write a fictional account o a factual legend you get a lot of comments from informed historians? I like fiction write us another story. You have the talent I have the desire to read.

  31. Grace Lecara October 11, 2018 at 3:34 am #

    Found this book by accident. Loved every word every phrase and character. Told through her deceased baby is so fantastic it leaves you tingling. Didn’t want it to end. Would make a tremendous movie. Thank you for such a unique read.

  32. Sean Hallinan February 19, 2019 at 6:54 am #

    I thought the description of you as a “female Carmack McCarthy” was giving you short shrift even before I read the book, even more so after I read it. I think you are the female Courtney Collins! Good job on the story, I could never shake the feeling of trepidation for Jessie’s outcome and was sad when she teamed up with the boys in the mountain as I knew it could not last. They had too good of a thing going there. Again, good job, great read. I look forward to the next one.

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