Georgiana Molloy: Collector of Seeds and Words

Australian Women Writers Gen 1 Week 15-21 Jan. 2018

Part of the garden at Crosby Lodge
Part of the garden at Crosby Lodge

Jessica White is the author of A Curious Intimacy and Entitlement. Her short stories, essays and poems have appeared widely in Australian and international literary journals and she has won awards, funding and residencies. She has almost completed a memoir, Hearing Maud: A Journey for a Voice about deafness and Maud Praed, the deaf daughter of 19th century expatriate novelist Rosa Praed. Currently she is based at The University of Queensland where she is writing an ecobiography of 19th century Western Australian botanist Georgiana Molloy.

Jess has put up a post today on Georgiana Molloy which begins…

Over at the Australian Legend, Bill Holloway is hosting a focus on the first generation of non-Indigenous women writers in Australia. As this is my area of specialty I thought I’d pen something on Georgiana Molloy and, if I get time, another on Rosa Praed.

Georgiana was born into a life of wealth in 1805 in Carlisle, England. Her father, an ambitious Scotsman named David Kennedy, married Elizabeth Dalton, daughter of the Mayor of Carlisle. Kennedy built a house on his wife’s land (which was now his) at Crosby-on Eden, a few kilometres east of Carlisle. Georgiana, as a girl training to become a lady of leisure, learned her first lessons about plants in its gardens. Like other decorative arts such as writing, painting and flower arranging, botany was seen to be a worthwhile pursuit for women as it combined leisure and learning. It encouraged women to go outdoors, learn botanical Latin and read handbooks about Linnaean systematics.

Georgiana’s father fell from his horse and died in 1819, leaving behind debts, five children and a widow with no means of supporting them. Georgiana was fifteen. As she grew older, her family situation became even more unstable, as there was conflict with her mother and sister. One of Georgiana’s motivations for marrying Captain John Molloy and emigrating with him to Augusta in 1829 was that her options were narrowing.

Original post here. Thanks Jess!


see also: Jessica White, The Native Seeds of Augusta here

18 thoughts on “Georgiana Molloy: Collector of Seeds and Words

  1. That bit about the woman getting married and emigrating because she had almost no options…. It still tears me up that women–or any people–can’t band together with others communally without throwing sex/ownership into it. I know there’s more to a marriage at this time than sex, but women must give themselves up physically to ensure survival.


    • I think we are slowly getting to the point where women can have separate lives AND sex AND children without being forced into marriages where they are owned as you say by their husbands. A big part of that was the abolition of the laws which vested a woman’s property in her husband. Then came divorce by consent or separation (1975 in Australia). And after that I guess it’s just social values.

      Conversation over dinner last night concerned New Zealand’s young, female, de-facto married Prime Minister who recently announced she is pregnant. I think that will be another step forward though there are still plenty of Neanderthals ready to take two steps back.


      • Yes, I think you’re right. The property laws made a significant difference for women – and I tend to see that as a major beginning for women’s ability to be independent.

        And, yes, I loved the news about the NZ PM – though it’s going to be a big ask I think for her, personally, to manage it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I got told off for suggesting last night that ‘Jacinta’ might need a 3 month break. I hope she doesn’t try to be too heroic and I’m sure everyone around her will be supportive. I’d be dreading the furore around the first public (or semi public) breast feed but good on her if she manages to normalize it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I wouldn’t have told you off at all. Having a baby is a big thing and I don’t much like the modern idea of working to the last minute and getting back to work promptly. Yes, having a baby is a normal healthy process, but it still demands a lot of the body and, perhaps, even more of the emotions. Also, it’s a rare parent who doesn’t suffer from tiredness for a start – and if you have to be on the ball to make big decisions you can’t afford to be exhausted. As you say, she’s sure to have good support but surely she’ll also want to get to know her baby? So, I agree with you. For her, her relationship and her child, I hope she doesn’t try to be too heroic, to be “superwoman”. The “super” woman is the one who knows her limits and makes the best decisions for herself and her family, not the one who tries to do it all.


      • Bravo, Sue! Sue, Lisa and Melanie feature often in my dinner time discussions and I’ll be certain next time this subject comes up to begin “Sue says”.


  2. For those who would like to know more about Georgiana Molloy, Bernice Barry’s recent biography, called The Mind That Shines, is excellent.


    • I have The Mind that Shines in my TBR and I’ll read it ‘soon’, I also have an earlier biography in my father’s stuff. If readers want to know more, there are links to your review, and I think Lisa’s, in the AWW Gen 1 page above.


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