The Governesses

Letters from the colonies 1862-1882

Patricia Clarke
AUD $24.99
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A rich insight into daily life in the Australian colonies in the mid-nineteenth century, as seen through the eyes of governesses who travelled from England to take up posts with local families.

'For anyone with a taste for social history and perhaps some feeling for the contrast between the romantic triumphs of fictional governesses and the fate of the living species self-portrayed here, this valuable book should be a special pleasure' - Tess van Sommers, Sydney Morning Herald

'It is a rare pleasure to read a book that is excellent in every way: research, writing, balance, interpretation. this is not a book to read about, but to read' - Nancy Kessing, The Australian

In the second half of the nineteenth century a number of women, sponsored by the Female Middle Class Emigration Society, left Britain to seek a better life in the colonies. Unmarried and unemployed, they were among the many educated genteel women who were endeavouring to find work as governesses, then one of the few occupations open to them.

In letters back to the Society these women reported on life as they saw it in the colonies during the years 1862-1882. They tell of their travails; of their adjustments to strange and often hostile environments; of their loneliness, their failures and their successes.

Most importantly, they give fresh and disarming views on colonials and colonial society, touching on aspects of pioneering experience and of life in the towns of seven countries during a fascinating period in history.

Author bio:

Patricia Clarke, journalist and historian, is the author of A Colonial Woman, the biography of the pioneering Mary Braidwood Mowle 1827-1857, and Pen Portraits, a surprising account of the many women writers and journalists in colonial Australia. She has also just completed Her Brief, Bright Day (forthcoming), the story of Louisa Atkinson, the first Australian-born woman novelist and a noted naturalist, and is compiling, with Dale Spender, a collection of letters and diaries written by women during Australia's first half-century.

Actively involved in heritage issues and in local and family history, Patricia Clarke is the editor of the Canberra Historical Journal.

Category: History
ISBN: 9780044421252
Table Of Contents: Acknowledgements



1. Genteel Emigrants

2. The Voyage Out

3. The First Arrivals

4. A Mixed Reception

5. Life with the 'Nouveaux Riches'

6. Station Life

7. Hard Times in Depressed Years

8. Disappointments and Difficulties

9. The Last Emigrants

10. Following Miss Rye to New Zealand

11. A Challenging Life in South Africa

12. Venturers to Alien Lands


Appendix: Female Middle Class Emigration Society Letter-books - List of Correspondents, 1862-1882


Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Imprint: Allen & Unwin
Pub Date: January 1989
Page Extent: 258
Format: Paperback
Age: 0 - 0
Subject: History