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.


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. A family story with an overt moral perspective, which covers both colonial Sydney urban and rural life (on the Parramatta River), as well as experience of the NSW and Victorian goldfields.

Leakey, Caroline W,* The Broad Arrow: Being Passages from the History of Maida Gwynnham, a Lifer (1859) Predates Marcus Clarke’s His Natural Life in having a (female) convict protagonist. Reviewed in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1877.

—–. Lyra Australis: Or, Attempts to Sing in a Strange Land. (1854) Poetry.

Spence, Catherine Helen,** Clara Morison : A Tale of South Australia during the Gold Fever (1854), Vol 1 and Vol 2.

—–. Tender and True: a colonial tale (in 2 volumes) (1856) Also available for download on Google Play.

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


Books by Australian women published in the 1860s and 1870 >

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

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. Some 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.

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