1840s to 1850s

The following list provides links to texts by well-known and forgotten Australian women writers published in the 1840s and 1850s which are available either to be read online or for download. They are organised alphabetically by author in decade of publication.

Note: For purposes of this list “Australian” is defined loosely and may include authors who wrote books while living in Australia, or who wrote books set in Australia. Many of these text were found in the Colonial Australian Popular Fiction: A Digital Archive (CAPF) and bibliographical details and genre are taken from that archive. (Note: the archivists’ definitions of “romance” might differ from contemporary views.) Links to author names where given are to the CAPF archive, unless otherwise indicated; links to online texts are either to that archive, to pdf versions from the University of Sydney Digital Archive, Project Gutenberg or elsewhere as found. If you find other texts for this list, or better links to any of the books listed below, please let us know via the contact page.


Vidal, Mary Theresa,** Tales for the Bush (1845)


Atkinson, Louisa,* Gertrude the Emigrant: A Tale of Colonial Life, J R Clarke, Sydney 1857.

—–. Cowanda, the Veteran’s Grant: An Australian Story, J R Clarke, Sydney 1859.

Franc, Maud Jeanne.** Marian; or, The Light of Someone’s Home, A Tale of Australian Bush Life. Alfred Waddy, 1859. Note: ‘Marian’ was the first novel by a South Australian woman to be published in SA and the first novel set wholly in SA.

Leakey, Caroline W,* The Broad Arrow: Being Passages from the History of Maida Gwynnham, a Lifer (1859)

Spence, Catherine Helen,** Clara Morison : A Tale of South Australia during the Gold Fever (1854)

—–. Tender and True: a colonial tale (in 2 volumes) (1856)

Vidal, Mary Theresa,** The Convict Laundress (1852)


* Links to the Australian Dictionary of Biography online
** Links to AustLit