Australian Women Writers, Gen 1
The first generation of Australian Literature is defined here as those writers who came before the 1890s and the Sydney Bulletin ‘Bush Realism’ school, although many of them continued writing into the first part of the 20th century. This corresponds pretty well with HM Green’s First Period, ‘Conflict’ 1789-1850 and Second Period ‘Consolidation’, 1850-1890, though on reflection I think he was right to treat then separately and I was wrong to conflate them. If you look closely at the list below you will see that the writing of novels began to flourish only after 1850, and prior to that women’s (and men’s) writing consisted mostly of letters and journals.
Men – diarist Watkin Tench and novelists James Tucker (Ralph Rashleigh), Marcus Clarke (For the Term of his Natural Life), Rolf Boldrewood (Robbery Under Arms) and Henry Kingsley (The Recollections of Geoffry Hamlyn) – continue to be seen, and endlessly republished, as the face of early Aust.Lit. but in fact the women of the period were both more popular and more prolific.
Dale Spender writes that Ada Cambridge, Tasma (Jessie Couvreur) and Rosa Praed “became best-selling novelists in Australia, Britain and the United States and, were the image of Australia to be drawn from their writings rather than those of a few men, the representation of Australia, past and present, would be very different.”
My review of Spender’s Writing a New World: Two Centuries of Australian Women Writers (1988) provides a more detailed overview of the period (here).
As best as I can determine, republished women’s fiction from this period numbers fewer than 20 works (and Praed alone wrote 40) though a great many more have been scanned and are available to read and/or buy online.
Below I have listed firstly, all the women (in birth date order) and their works – poetry, novels, letters, journals – which have been republished or for which I have reviews (reviewer’s blog in brackets; wadh is me), and essays and books about them; and secondly reference works and essays about the period in general.
Bill Holloway (Most recent update 22 Jan., 2018)
Margaret Catchpole (1762-1819) ADB
Letters (1801-1811) Online here
Richard Cobbold, The History of Margaret Catchpole: A Suffolk Girl (1845) here
Elizabeth Macarthur (1766-1850) ADB
Letters (1789-1849) (Michelle Scott Tucker)
Hughes, J (ed), The Journal and Letters of Elizabeth Macarthur 1789-1798, Historic Houses Trust NSW, Sydney, 1984.
Macarthur Onslow, S, The Macarthurs of Camden, Rigby, Adelaide, 1973.
Anne Drysdale (1792-1853) and Caroline Elizabeth Newcomb (1812-1874) ADB
Diaries (Michelle Scott Tucker)
Roberts, B (ed), Miss D & Miss N: an extraordinary partnership, Australian Scholarly Publishing with the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, 2009.
Georgiana McCrae (1804-1890) ADB
Georgiana’s Journal (1934), William Brooks, Sydney, 1978 (The Resident Judge of Port Phillip)
Louisa Meredith (1812-1895) ADB
My Home in Tasmania during a Residence of Nine Years (1852) here
Vivienne Rae Ellis, Louisa Anne Meredith: A Tigress in Exile, Blubber Head Press, Tas., 1979
Ellen Davitt (1812-1879) Wiki
Annie Baxter (1816-1905) ADB
Journal of Annie Baxter Dawbin, Lucy Frost ed., UQP, Brisbane, 1998
Susan Magarey, Unbridling the Tongues of Women (biography) here
Rachel Henning (1826-1914) ADB
Illawarra Historical Soc., The Letters of Rachel Henning: Have we been conned? here
Annabella Boswell (1826-1912) ADB
Recollections of Some Australian Blacks (1890)
Some Recollections of My Early Days (1908), repub. as Annabella Boswell’s Journal, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1965, 1981, 1993 (wadh)
Further Recollections of My Early Days in Australia (1911), repub. as Annabella Boswell’s Other Journal, Mulini Press, Canberra, 1992
Maud Jeanne Franc (Matilda Jane Evans) (1827-1886) ADB
Marian, or The Light of Some One’s Home (1859)
Barbara Wall, Our Own Matilda, Wakefield Press, Adelaide, 1994
Nathan Hobby, Australia’s Greatest Temperance Novelist here
Mary Braidwood Mowle (1827-1857) ADB
Diaries (Michelle Scott Tucker)
Patricia Clarke, A Colonial Woman: The Life and Times of Mary Braidwood Mowle 1827-1857 (Syd, 1986)
Ellen Clacy (1830-1901) Wiki
Margaret Seymour (b. 1830 approx) of Alpha Station, Qld
Mary Anne Broome (1831-1911) ADB
Letters to Guy (1885), OUP, Melbourne, 1963
Louisa Atkinson (1834-1872) ADB
Gertrude the Emigrant: A Tale of Colonial Life by an Australian Lady (1857), Canberra School of English & Australian Scholarly Editions Centre reprint, 1998
A Voice from the Country, Column in Sydney Morning Herald (1860-1870?) (Whispering Gums)
The Three Miss Kings (1883), Virago, Modern Classics #244 (wadh) (Books Around the Corner)
A Marked Man, Some Episodes in his Life (1891), Pandora, 1987 (Narelle Ontivero)
Thirty Years in Australia (1903) here (ANZLitLovers)
Sisters (1904), Penguin, 1989 (Brona’s Books)
Catherine Martin (1848-1937) ADB
An Australian Girl (1894), Pandora, 1987 (wadh)
The Incredible Journey (1923), Pandora, 1987
Poems, Australian Poetry Library here
The Bond of Wedlock (1887), Pandora, 1987 (wadh)
The Soul of Countess Adrian (1888) (Jessica White)
Outlaw and Lawmaker (1893), Pandora, 1987
Lady Bridget in the Never-Never Land (1915), Pandora, 1987 here (wadh)
Chris Tiffin, Rosa Praed, Victorian Fiction Research Guides here
Jessica White, Stargazing with Rosa Praed here
Patricia Clarke, A Paradox of Exile: Rosa Praed’s Lifelines to her Australian Past. In Haebich and Offord (eds), Landscapes of Exile: Once Perilous, Now Safe here
Len Platt, Race and Romance in the Australian Novels of Rosa Praed here
Bronwyn Hickman, Mary Gaunt: Independent Colonial Woman, 2015 here
The Australian Women Writers Challenge have put up an excellent site (here) listing all books by Australian women, available online, sorted by decade, up to the 1930s.
Reference works and essays
Dale Spender, Writing a New World: Two Centuries of Australian Women Writers, Pandora, London, 1988 (wadh)
Patricia Clarke & Dale Spender, Life Lines: Australian women’s letters and diaries 1788-1840, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1992.
HM Green, A History of Australian Literature, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1961
Julieanne Lamond, Stella vs Miles: Women Writers and Literary Value in Australia, Meanjin, 2011 here
WAD Holloway, The Independent Woman in Australian Literature here
Australian Women Writers Gen 1 Week Contributors, 21 Jan 2018 here
Australian Women Writers Gen 1 Week, 14 Nov 2017 here
Early Australian Women Writers (1), 28 Feb 2017 here
Men I’ve reviewed from the same period
James Tucker, Ralph Rashleigh, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1952 (Colin Roderick, ed.) (wadh)