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Image courtesy of publisher's website.
y separately published work icon Don't Take Your Love to Town single work   autobiography  
Note: Susan Hampton worked with Ruby Langford Ginibi on the rewrites of this book.
Issue Details: First known date: 1988... 1988 Don't Take Your Love to Town
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Don’t Take Your Love to Town is a story of courage in the face of poverty and tragedy. Ruby recounts losing her mother when she was six, growing up in a mission in northern New South Wales and leaving home when she was fifteen. She lived in tin huts and tents in the bush and picked up work on the land while raising nine children virtually single-handedly. Later she struggled to make ends meet in the Koori areas of Sydney. Ruby is an amazing woman whose sense of humour has endured through all the hardships she has experienced.' (Source UQP website:



Reading Australia

Reading Australia

This work has Reading Australia teaching resources.

Unit Suitable For

AC: Year 12 (English Unit 4)


Aboriginality, alcoholism, connection to place, dispossession of land and culture, domestic violence, identity, protectionism, racism

General Capabilities

Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Information and communication technology, Intercultural understanding, Literacy, Personal and social

Cross-curriculum Priorities

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia


  • Available in sound recording and braille editions.
  • Epigraph: First verse of the song 'Don't Take Your Love to Town'; black women are on the way 'up'... Bobbi Sykes; I swear the earth shall surely be complete to him or her who shall be complete... Walt Whitman.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Ringwood, Ringwood - Croydon - Kilsyth area, Melbourne - East, Melbourne, Victoria,: Penguin , 1988 .
      image of person or book cover 2981804540955562961.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 269p.
      ISBN: 0140111735 (pbk)
Alternative title: Bonalbon Musta Ruby
Language: Finnish
    • Helsinki,
      Scandinavia, Western Europe, Europe,
      Kaantopiiri ,
      2000 .
      image of person or book cover 2620799875290548036.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 326p.
      Description: maps.

Works about this Work

Remediating Australia’s Cultural Memory : Aboriginal Memoir as Social Activism Helen A. Fordham , 2018 single work criticism
— Appears in: Continuum : Journal of Media & Cultural Studies , vol. 32 no. 1 2018; (p. 42-51)

'During the 1980s Aboriginal Australians experienced setbacks in their quest for the restoration of their land rights. Neoliberal politics reframed such demands as special interests seeking to gain a material advantage at the expense of the general community and as a threat to the economic security of the nation. As a consequence, politicians failed to pass legislation that would formalize the national land rights system that would guarantee Aboriginal economic self-sufficiency. This paper argues that it was in this context that Aboriginal memoir emerged to prompt social action by recounting experiences of discrimination and exploitation erased by official history and by challenging the imposed racist stereotypes used to marginalize Aboriginal claims. These memoirs prompted sympathy and understanding among a broad readership, which enabled the formation of a political solidarity over the recognition of Aboriginal land rights. These memoirs also expressed a commonality of Aboriginal experience that served to unite an increasingly frayed Aboriginal activist movement eroded by neoliberal policies.' (Publication abstract)

Negotiating the “Drunken Aborigine”: Alcohol in Indigenous Autobiography Sam Dalgarno , 2018 single work criticism
— Appears in: Journal of Australian Studies , vol. 42 no. 1 2018; (p. 51-64)

'This article approaches the question of how Aboriginal Australians describe their own experiences of drinking alcohol, sometimes to excess, and how they recover, through a reading of seven autobiographies alongside the scholarship on Aboriginal drinking. The evidence contained in these life stories stresses personal factors and adds to the picture we glean from the scholarship, whether academic or governmental, epidemiological, anthropological or historical, which explains Aboriginal drinking habits in more social terms. Thus, the autobiographies themselves make an important intervention into the scholarship on Aboriginal drinking. Beyond this, negotiating with the stereotype of the “drunken Aborigine” is unavoidable for Aboriginal people who write about their drinking and these autobiographies represent a challenge to this popular image. This article examines a previously unexamined discourse on Aboriginal drinking that goes some way towards undermining the public representation of a drunken Aboriginal culture while simultaneously giving individual Aboriginal Australians greater voice in describing their past and current experiences.' (Publication abstract)

The 'Cultural Mission' in Indigenous Non-Fiction Book Publishing in Australia 1960–2000 Mark Davis , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: Journal of Australian Studies , vol. 41 no. 4 2017; (p. 450-471)

'Non-fiction books by and about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have arguably played a crucial role in the framing of public discussion of Indigenous issues in Australia since the 1950s. In this article, I track quantitative trends in the publishing of the approximately 769 such books for the Australian retail trade between 1960 and 2000, as part of what I describe as an emerging “cultural mission” among Australian book publishers through the period. The article then discusses two major trends within the data. The first is an overall increase in the number of titles published annually through the period, while the second is a declining interest by mass-market trade publishers in publishing books in the area from the 1980s onwards versus an increased publication rate by smaller independent presses and two large trade publishers with a particular interest in the area, one of which is also independently owned. The article concludes with a discussion of possible reasons for the latter trend in the context of ongoing debates about white Australian colonialism.'  (Publication abstract)

Read, Listen, Understand: Why Non-Indigenous Australians Should Read First Nations Writing Meera Anne Atkinson , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: The Conversation , 5 July 2017;

'Do you read Australia’s First Nations (Indigenous) writers? If not, why not? People read for many reasons: information, entertainment, escape, to contemplate in company, to be moved. Reading can also be a political act, an act of solidarity, an expression of willingness to listen and to learn from others with radically different histories and lives.' (Introduction)

y separately published work icon Entangled Subjects : Indigenous/Australian Cross-Cultures Of Talk, Text, And Modernity Michèle Grossman , Netherlands : Rodopi , 2013 Z1938856 2013 single work criticism

'Indigenous Australian cultures were long known to the world mainly from the writing of anthropologists, ethnographers, historians, missionaries, and others. Indigenous Australians themselves have worked across a range of genres to challenge and reconfigure this textual legacy, so that they are now strongly represented through their own life-narratives of identity, history, politics, and culture. Even as Indigenous-authored texts have opened up new horizons of engagement with Aboriginal knowledge and representation, however, the textual politics of some of these narratives - particularly when cross-culturally produced or edited - can remain haunted by colonially grounded assumptions about orality and literacy.

Through an examination of key moments in the theorizing of orality and literacy and key texts in cross-culturally produced Indigenous life-writing, Entangled Subjects explores how some of these works can sustain, rather than trouble, the frontier zone established by modernity in relation to 'talk' and 'text'. Yet contemporary Indigenous vernaculars offer radical new approaches to how we might move beyond the orality-literacy 'frontier', and how modernity and the a-modern are productively entangled in the process. ' (Source: Angus & Robertson website

Remembering Ruby : 'Don't Take Your Love to Town' Again Alexis Harley , 2007 single work review
— Appears in: M/C Reviews , June 2007;

— Review of Don't Take Your Love to Town Ruby Langford Ginibi , 1988 single work autobiography
New Aboriginal Writing Helen Dakin , 1989 single work review
— Appears in: Southerly , June vol. 49 no. 2 1989; (p. 260-262)

— Review of Doin Wildcat : A Novel Koori Script Mudrooroo , 1988 single work novel ; Don't Take Your Love to Town Ruby Langford Ginibi , 1988 single work autobiography
Women Who Hold Life Together Judith Wright , 1989 single work review
— Appears in: Social Alternatives , October vol. 8 no. 3 1989; (p. 67)

— Review of Don't Take Your Love to Town Ruby Langford Ginibi , 1988 single work autobiography
Warm, Witty Look at Life of the Koori Mob Neville Curtis , 1989 single work review
— Appears in: The Saturday Mercury , 25 February 1989; (p. 20)

— Review of Don't Take Your Love to Town Ruby Langford Ginibi , 1988 single work autobiography
Rethinking Emplacement, Displacement and Indigeneity : Radiance, Auntie Rita and Don't Take Your Love to Town Ceridwen Spark , 2002 single work criticism
— Appears in: Journal of Australian Studies , no. 75 2002; (p. 95-103, notes 191-192)
y separately published work icon Aboriginal Experience Lloyd Cameron , Glebe : Pascal Press , 1994 Z1019180 1994 single work criticism
form y separately published work icon Aboriginal Experience Martin Didsbury , 1994 Z1019197 1994 single work film/TV

'The stories told by Ruby Langford Ginibi in Don't Take Your Love to Town, Sally Morgan My Place, and Mudrooroo in Wild Cat Falling provide the starting point for discussions on some of the key events and issues that have affected Aboriginal people.

Part 1: 'Aboriginal Experience' looks at the practice of removing Aboriginal children from their families, and denial of Aboriginality and equal rights. Part 2: 'Reclaiming Identity' looks at the importance of the family and the land to Aboriginal people and their quest to reclaim their identity.'

y separately published work icon Fictions of White Australia : Identity, Land and Community in Contemporary Australian Women's Life Narratives Philippa Sawyer , 1996 Z1019304 1996 single work thesis
y separately published work icon Recovery and Restoration : Changing Identities of Aboriginal Women in Australia Gail Maria Hennessy , 1999 Z1019315 1999 single work thesis The thesis critically examines four autobiographical writers. These four writers, Margaret Tucker, Glenyse Ward, Sally Morgan and Ruby Langford Ginibi illustrate different ways of constructing an Aboriginal identity in their published texts.
Last amended 13 Nov 2019 14:12:27
  • Coonabarabran, Coonabarabran area, Coonabarabran - Gilgandra - Coonamble area, Central West NSW, New South Wales,
  • Queensland,
  • Sydney, New South Wales,
  • 1930s
  • 1940s
  • 1950s
  • 1960s
  • 1970s
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