20 August 2007

Pioneer Women Of Australia

I have just finished reading this book, which is a newer version of previous diaries I've read about some of the women featured.

The diaries of pioneer women are something which I not only collect but also use for research material in writing my own novels, such as Kitty McKenzie's Land and A Noble Place - both books set in my country, Australia, during the Victorian era.

About the book:
These brave and resourceful women encountered conditions which would test their resilience and resourcefulness to the utmost: relentless heat, dust and isolation; and no doctors or pioneer women featured who faced the risk of dying from malaria, the scourge of tropical Australia.

Many women lived in wooden huts or tin sheds with concrete floors, cooked on wood-fired stoves, and lacked any of the domestic appliances we take for granted today.

Georgiana Molloy and the Brussell women tamed hectares of virgin bush with primitive implements. Myrtle White was trapped among sand hills, the fine grains invading her home and impeding her harrowing attempts to get her feverish baby son to the doctor before he died.

White's predicament was quoted by the Rev John Flynn while raising funds for his Flying Doctor service.The outback was indeed 'no place for a lady'.

Yet many women with no previous experience of hardship rose to the challenge of creating homes, nursing farming - and keeping journals, which provided a startling vivid picture of the life they faced - part of the outback legend.'Great Pioneer Women of the Outback' profiles ten female pioneers, from Jeannie Gunn, author of 'We of the Never Never' to equally remarkable but lesser known women, such as Emma Withnell in Western Australia and Evelyn Maunsell in Queensland.

Building on the women's own records and her knowledge of Australian women's history, Susanna de Vries documents the extraordinary grit and determination it took to build lives that their grandchildren have difficulty in comprehending but some older Australians still remember.

'Great Pioneer Women of the Outback' features women pioneering in some of the harshest land in Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia, the Northern Territory and New South Wales.

Distributor: Harper Collins
Author: Susanna De Vries
ISBN: 0732276632
RRP: $29.95 AUD
For my own stories I find the strength of pioneer women fascinating. Their stories sometimes seem too outlandish to be true. If you wrote down half of the things they had to endure, readers would think we wrote fantasy. Yet, these women survived such harsh primitive conditions, rearing children, working beside their men and coping with the demands of running not only a home but usually a large station and staff.

I have dedicated my Australian historical, A Noble Place to women such as these, hoping that in some small I can honour them.

What part of your research do you find makes you want to recreate? Or which era in history makes you eager to explore and do justice to in a novel?


Marg said...

I have added Great Pioneer Women to my list! I do remember reading some pioneering women stories in my teens and being completely blown away by them.

Anita Davison said...

Fascinating article, Anne and a lovely idea to dedicate A Noble Place to those courageous women.
I am still baffled about how you manage to find the time for all this posting! I cannot even keep up with reading them!

carrie_lofty said...

Don't worry, Anita. We're working on changes to slow down the flow of information, which should help readers keep up without letting some of these great posts slip through the cracks.

Jennifer Ross said...

Your posting struck a chord with me. The incredible stories these women lived through--all true--is the kind of stuff I think historical fiction writers can highlight.

I remember school history class as boring, boring, boring. Who cares about dates and place names when there's such spirit, great odds to overcome, and the sheer determination of those that became our ancestors. That's history!

Jacquie said...

Anne, you're sooooo good at utilizing these resources and making history come alive in your characters. Thanks for writing this article!