1830s, 1840s and 1850s

The following list provides links to texts by well-known as well as forgotten Australian women writers written and/or published circa the 1830s, 1840s and 1850s, which are available either to be read online or for download. They are organised alphabetically by author in the decade of publication. Many of the links to publications digitised on TROVE have been found with the assistance of the Australian Newspaper Fiction Database (ANFD) or via the AustLit database (requires membership for access or log-in via a library). If any links are broken or incorrect, please let us know via our contact page.

Note: No guarantee can be made as to the legibility of articles in digitised newspapers on TROVE links to which are found below. Some facsimile copies may be only partially illegible; clearer copies may sometimes be found via NSW State Library eresources collection (requires log in for full online access). It is AWWs’ aim that all copies will be legible in time, but we rely on volunteers to do this work. Any effort to correct the TROVE texts would be greatly appreciated. Also, biographical information in the AustLit database, marked by **, may require log-in (library card holders may gain access through the e-resources catalogue of the library, e.g. State Library of NSW).

Links are to TROVE unless otherwise stated.


Early works with no original date given:

Chisholm, Caroline** a.k.a. Mrs Chisholm (1808-1877).
The Song of the Plough (published posthumously in 1902 and again in 1934; original date unknown)

Fenton, Elizabeth** (1804-1876).
The Journal of Mrs Fenton: a narrative of her life in India, the Isle of France (Mauritius), and Tasmania during the years 1826-1830 (published posthumously in 1901) – link to archive.org begins at Fenton’s arrival in Hobart.

Lindsey, Sarah** (1804-1876).
The Travels of Robert and Sarah Lindsey (edited by one of their daughters and published posthumously in 1886) – link to archive.org

Thomas, Mary (1787-1875)
The Diary and Letters of Mary Thomas (1836-1866): being a record of the early days of South Australia ed. by Evan Kyffin Thomas – available online via an academic institution or library, e.g. SLNSW, (requires membership)


Dunlop, Eliza Hamilton,** a.k.a. Eliza Law; E. H. Dunlop; Mrs E. H. Dunlop; Eliza H. Dunlop; E. Hamilton Dunlop. Birth name: Eliza Hamilton Law; b. 1796, Country Armagh, Ireland; d.1880
The Aboriginal Father, (date?) lyrics/song with music
— The Aboriginal Mother (1838; republished with note 1841; poem Songs of An Exile 4 )
The Dream (1838, poem; in the Songs of An Exile series)
— The Ford of the Emu Plains: Stories from an Exile 1 (1838, prose): part 1; part 2.
The Regatta (1838, poem; in the Songs of An Exile series)
Songs of An Exile 2 (1838, poem)
Songs of An Exile 3 (1838, poem)
The Vase, comprising songs for music and poems (manuscript in Mitchell Library NSW)

Franklin, Lady Jane (1791-1875).
This errant lady: Jane Franklin’s overland journey to Port Phillip and Sydney (1839). – link to TROVE. Note: may need to be logged in to access.

Fraser, Eliza a.k.a. Eliza Anne Fraser (1798-1858)
Narrative of the Capture, Sufferings, and Miraculous Escape of Mrs. Eliza Fraser, Wife of the Late Captain Samuel Fraser, Commander of the Ship Stirling Castle… [etc] (1837, autobiography) – link to TROVE. Note: may need to be logged in to access.

Porter, Mrs G. R a.k.a. Sarah Ricardo Porter; Sarah Porter; Mrs George Richardson Porter. (1791-1862)
Alfred Dudley; The Australian Settlers (1830); authorship uncertain; attributed to William Howitt but also, and more convincingly to Mrs G R Porter, according to AustLit entry. – link to archive.org

  1. Prinsep, Mrs. (1803-1830); letters by her husband Augustus, selected by her.
    The Journal of a Voyage from Calcutta to Van Diemen’s Land: Comprising A Description of that Colony During a Six Months’ Residence (1833, prose travel) – link to archive.org; also on Google Books


A Lady** a.k.a. Mary Jane Gandy; Mary Jane Goneday; Maria Gandy ([1816]-[1882])
William: A Tale of South Australian History By A Lady, serialised in the Observer (1843, short story, historical fiction): ch1; ch2; ch3; ch4.

Anley, Charlotte** (1796-1893). UK novelist and composer sent to Australia in 1836 to write a report on conditions for female prisoners. At least one of her novels, Earlswood (1852), has some Australian content.
The Prisoners of Australia: A Narrative (1841; autobiography) – link to archive.org

Bailey, Mary** (1792-1873). Convict.
A Lyric Ode by M.B. (1846, poem)
A Stormy Night At Sea (1845, poem; Hobart Town, Sandy Bay, Nov 27 )
A Tobacco-Loving Gentleman’s Address to His Pipe (1846, poem)
A Voice from Ass-Mania!! Or, Neddy’s Bray (1847; poem; unattributed, but listed in AustLit database entry on Mary Bailey)
The Butterfly by M.B. (1845, poem)
Hidden Grief (1846, poem)
The Moon (1846, poem)
The Test of Friendship (1846, poem)
Woman’s Love (1846, poem)

Barton, Charlotte** a.k.a. Charlotte Atkinson (mother of Louise Atkinson) (1797-1867).
A Mother’s Offering to Her Children by A Lady Long Resident in New South Wales (1841) – link to Australian Digital Collections (USyd).
The Happy Grandmother, and her Grandchildren Who Went To Australia in Cheerful Tales by ‘Peter Prattle’ (1848)
The Way Charles and His Two Brothers Amused Themselves, on a Visit to their Cousins, William and Mary in Cheerful Tales by ‘Peter Prattle’ (1848)

Boyd, Hannah Villiers** (1807-1865).
Letters on Education : Addressed to a Friend in the Bush of Australia (1848, correspondence) – link to Google Books

Chisholm, Caroline** a.k.a. Mrs Chisholm (1808-1877).
An Australian bush scene (from Letty O’Brien) Caroline Chisholm (1843); text uncorrected on TROVE
The Song of the Plough (published posthumously in 1902 and again in 1934; original date unknown)

Clarke, Elizabeth, birth name: Elizabeth Dowling; b. 1801; d. 1878. Married Hon. William John Turner Clarke c. 1829.
— Two entries from a diary by the great-grandmother of Phyllis M Power (nee Clarke), from 1849 and published for Australia Day, January, 1949: p4; p37.
— further entries from Clarke’s diary (illustrated), compiled by her great-grand-daughter Phyllis M Power (nee Clarke) – sketches illustrating it are reproductions of the bride’s own, copied from the diary : 3 Aug 1949; 14 Sep 19495 Oct 1949; 25 Oct 1949; 11 Jan 1950 an account of a wagonette trip from Melbourne to the Western District ; 18 Jan 1950; 25 Jan 1950; 29 Mar 1950; 19 Apr 1950; 10 May 1950; 31 May 1950; 28 Jun 1950.

Drysdale, Anne. b. 1792; d. 1853.
— Diary; published as Miss D and Miss N: an extraordinary partnership: the diary of Anne Drysdale (2009; Australian Scholarly Pub.); links to archive.org; access conditions may apply.

Dunlop, Eliza Hamilton,** a.k.a. Eliza Law; E. H. Dunlop; Mrs E. H. Dunlop; Eliza H. Dunlop; E. Hamilton Dunlop. b. 1796, Armagh, Northern Ireland; d. 1880, Wollombi, NSW
Air: Tambourgi (1844; poem; with controversial note)
The eagle chief (1842; lyric/song with musical score)
Elegy (1847; poem)
Go dia lest slan: Irish Song (1840, poem)
Inscribed to the memory of E B Kennedy (1849, poem)
The Irish volunteers (1843, poem)
Lights of the past (1840, poem)
Native poetry (1848; poetry translation)
Peggy Barn: songs of an exile 8 (1840, poem)
Rosetta Nathan’s dirge (1843, poem)
Star of the south: an Australian national melody (1842; lyric/song)
Songs of an exile attributed to Dunlop in AustLit database entry for Eliza Hamilton Dunlop: Writing from the Colonial Frontier (2021)
Songs of an exile 7 (1840; poem)
Star of the south (1842; letter to the editors)

Hill, Fidelia S T aka Fedelia Hill, Fidelia Howe, Mrs Hill; birth name: Fidelia Savage Thornton Munkhouse. b. 14 Aug 1794 Pontefract, Wakefield, Yorkshire, England; d. 21 July 1854, Launceston, Tas.
To A departed relative (poem; quoted in full in review of Poems, and Recollections of the Past (Sydney: T Trood 1840)

Kearney, Anne Elizabeth** a.k.a. Mrs Thomas Kearney (1827-1898).
A widowed mother’s lament on the death of her only child (1848, poem)

Meredith, Louisa Anne. nee Twamley. Shares entry in Australian Dictionary of Biography with her husband Charles. Launceston Examiner obituary (22 Oct 1895), Daily Telegraph obituary (25 Oct 1895), Illustrated Sydney mention (4 Jun 1892). Note: A curious entry mentioning Meredith’s gun, which she took on her painting excursions, appears here. (The gun itself formed part of The Private Collection of John and Robyn McCullagh 2005-2010.)
Notes and sketches of New South Wales: during a residence in that colony from 1839 to 1844.
(1844) – link to Project Gutenberg Australia.

Molloy, Georgiana b. 1805; d. 7 Apr 1843.
Unpublished diary (co-written with husband John), scanned copy available from State Library of Western Australia (barely legible; access conditions may apply).

Southey, Caroline, aka Caroline Bowles; C. S. (1786-1854). British poet; Australian content.
The landing of the Primrose (1842; poem)

Vidal, Mary Theresa (1815-1873),**
Tales for the bush (1845; version transcribed by University of Sydney in 1997, available for download as a pdf) – link to Australian Digital Collections


Note: For books in the Australian Digital Collections, use the > arrows to scroll through the pages online.

Atkinson, Louisa* (1834-1872), aka L.A. .
A voice from the country: from a correspondent (12 Dec 1859; nonfiction article)
— The clouded dawn: or, great men’s early trials (1858, essay)
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 – link to Australian Digital Collections
Gertrude the Emigrant: A Tale of Colonial Life, J R Clarke, Sydney 1857 – link to Australian Digital Collections
How Shall We Keep Our Christmas? (1858, short story)
The Sawyer’s Home (1858, short story)
Scenes from a Life Drama (1858, novella): ch1: 27 Mar; 10 Apr;.24 Apr; 8 May; 22 May; 5 Jun; 5 Jun ch6 (final).

Boyd, Hannah Villiers** (1807-1865).
A Voice From Australia ; Or, an Inquiry into the Probability of New Holland Being Connected with the Prophecies Relating to New Jerusalem and the Spiritual Temple (1851; also available as pdf) – link to Google Books

Carleton, Caroline** a.k.a. Caroline J. Carleton; Mrs Charles James Carleton; Caroline Baynes ([1820]-1874).
The Song of Australia (1859)

Chisholm, Caroline** a.k.a. Mrs Chisholm (1808-1877).
The A.B.C. of Colonization: In a Series of Letters, (1850) – link to archive.org

Congreve, Emily aka Little Jacob (b.1830- d. 28 Sep 1896). Obituary in The Advertiser (29 Sep 1896); obituary in Quiz and Lantern (1 Oct 1896); sister of Matilda Jane Evans (Maud Jeanne Franc).
Lines Occasioned By My Mother’s Death (1853, poem)

Dexter, Caroline** a.k.a. Caroline Harper Dexter; Harper Dexter; Caroline Lynch; Carrie Lynch; Madame Carole; A Clairvoyante. (1819-1884).
Ladies Almanack, 1858: The Southern Cross, or Australian Album and New Year’s Gift (1858, anthology of stories and poetry)

Dunlop, Eliza Hamilton,** a.k.a. Eliza Law; E. H. Dunlop; Mrs E. H. Dunlop; Eliza H. Dunlop; E. Hamilton Dunlop. b. 1796, Armagh, Northern Ireland; d. 1880, Wollombi, NSW
Caritas (1853, poem)
Carlingford Bay (1857, poem)
Destiny (1856, poem)
Helleborus Niger: The Christmas Rose (1857, poem)
Memories of Maxwell (1852, poem)
Ode to Gold (1852, poem)
Pialla Wollombi: The poetry of language of Wollombi (1850?)
Poesy (1856, poem)
The Shamrock (1853, poem)
To Home and Friends (1857)

Evans, Matilda Jane** (nee Congreve), aka Maud Jeanne Franc (1827-1886). Bibliographical information, Mount Barker Pioneers (1930); sister of Emily Congreve.
Marian, or, the light of someone’s home: a tale of Australian bush life (1859/1868) A romance with strong Christian themes. Note: ‘Marian’ reputedly is the first novel by a South Australian woman to be published in SA and the first novel set wholly in SA – link to Colonial Australian Popular Fiction Digital Archive

Ironside, Adelaide** a.k.a. Adelaide Eliza Ironside (1831-1867)
A Song of Independence (1853, poem)
Australia  Sea-girt Australia, thy wave-chisel’d rocks (1853 poem)
Columbus  As a free lion in its strength, his will (1853, poem)
The Death of Leichhardt (1853, poem)
The Desert of Atacama  What place is this? – afar, around (1853, poem)
Dirge on the Duke of Wellington  Warrior! mine earnest tears (1853 poem)
The Eternity of Hell Where dieth not the worm (1853 poem)
Freedom and Independence for the Golden Lands of Australia by the Rev. Dr. Lang (1854, poem)
Lament of the Indian Mother Why wildly weep I thus for thee, (1853, poem)
Sketches of Character: pt 1 (1854, poem)
Song O fly not in the night – the night, beloved! (1853, poem)
Song of Mila When reckless in the moments of gaiety I seem, (1853 poem)
Song of Norla I would fling me from the world (1854, poem)
Sonnet The thunders crash’d amain, and the blue fires (1853, poem)
Sonnet  When men ask what first inspired thee to fight (1854 poem)
Sonnets to Charles Harpur Poet, thy muse, like a charmed ruby stone (1853, poem)
Thoughts for the Australian League (1854, poem)
To ‘One of the Haters of the People.’  (1854, poem)
To the Watchers of Liberty  (1854 poem)
Virgil’s Tomb Tomb of Virgil, sacred fane! (1853 poem)

Leakey, Caroline W* (1827-1881).
The Broad Arrow: Being Passages from the History of Maida Gwynnham, a Lifer (1858) Vol1; Vol2. Predates Marcus Clarke’s His Natural Life in having a (female) convict protagonist. Reviewed in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1877 – link to Australian Digital Collection
Lyra Australis: Or, Attempts to Sing in a Strange Land. (1854; poetry) – link to hathitrust.org

Lee, Sarah** a.k.a. Sarah Wallis Lee; Mrs R. Lee; Mrs Robert Lee; Sarah Bowdich; Mrs T. E. Bowdich; Mrs T. E. Bowditch. (1791-1856) – UK author who travelled extensively
Adventures in Australia, or, The Wanderings of Captain Spencer in the Bush and the Wilds : Containing Accurate Descriptions of the Habits of Natives, and the Natural Productions and Features of the Country (1851: children’s adventure)

Meredith, Louisa Anne, (1812-1895) [see entry above]
My Home in Tasmania, During a Residence of Nine Years (1852; nonfiction) – link to archive.org (via Google books)

Parkes, Clarinda Sarah** (1839-1915), married name: Clarinda Thom; published work as Patty Parsley, Aletha and Ariel . Australian Cultural biographical entry (which incidentally includes a note on the prescience of Pet Perennials 1).
The Dream (1855; poem; first published in appeared in The Empire, her father Henry Parkes’ newspaper when Clarinda was 15) – link to the Institute of Australian Culture
— Pet Perennials (1859-1860), a series of short stories published in The Australian Home Companion and Band of Hope – links to TROVE
1. Pet Perennials 1:1; 1:1 (cont.); 1:2; 1:2 (cont.); 1:3; 1:3 (cont.); 1:3 (concl.): a young woman has to choose between a prosperous marriage and one of love and faith (romance, with strong Christian overtones).
2. Pet Perennials 2:1; 2:1 (cont.); 2:2; 2:2 (cont.); 2:2 (cont.); 2:3; 2:4: a youth wrestles with the question of Christian faith, and finds enlightenment in the example of a school companion; a mother’s prayers for her son are rewarded as the ultimate question of life after death is considered. Conservative in its views, this story may be of interest not only for its depiction of the contemporary threat of reason to Christian belief, but also, sociologically and historically, as it touches on war – the Crimean war, perhaps? – and missionary activity in the Pacific.
3. Pet Perennials 3:1; 3:1 (cont.); 3:2; 3:2 (cont.); 3:3; 3:3 (concl.): a plain young woman, disappointed in love, finds ultimate consolation in writing poetry.
4. Pet Perennials 4:1 in Children’s Portfolio (3 Dec 1859); 4:1 (cont.); 4:2; 4:2 (cont.); 4:3: a little boy has a prescient dream of an angel bringing him a little sister and taking her back to heaven.
5. Pet Perennials 5 (mislabelled 4 :1 (31 Dec 1859); 5:1 (cont.); 5:2; 5:2 (cont.); 5:3: an Irish lass is shipped off to Australia, pining for her young sweetheart.
Note: This series was continued in 1860 and further stories can be found after Parkes’ entry on our 1860s page. Links found with assistance from The Australian Newspaper Fiction Database.

Perry, Frances (1814-1892).
Contributions to an amateur magazine in prose and verse (1857) – link to archive.org via Google Books

Rushworth, M aka Miss M Rushworth, M. R.
Hans Egede: or, Never Despair (1850; poem on a Danish missionary)

Spence, Catherine Helen* (1825-1910).
Clara Morison: A Tale of South Australia during the Gold Fever (1854), Vol 1 and Vol 2. A romance which follows the life of an orphaned Scottish teenager, the Clara Morison of the title. Clara is forced by an uncaring uncle to leave her only sister and travel to South Australia with only a letter of introduction to one of her uncle’s business acquaintances who has settled in Adelaide and, now widowed, has no use for her as a companion to his wife. There she faces challenges to her status as a lady, firstly when rebuffed as a governess by people whom she might once have considered beneath her, and then being forced to go into service for lack of funds. The novel depicts the vulnerability of women in the new colony during a time of social upheaval which results from the discovery of gold in nearby Victoria. A minor female character enables Spence to reflect and expand on her growing ideas about colonial politics – links to archive.org
Tender and True: a colonial tale (in 2 volumes) (1856) – link to hathitrust.org; also available for download on Google Play.

Thomson, Miriam Mary (1830-1854)
Sacred Poetry (1850; Launceston: Henry Dowling) – link to State Library digital collection

Vidal, Mary Theresa* (1815-1873).
The Convict Laundress (1852) (short story) – link to Australian Digital Collection
Home Trials (1858) – link to archive.org

Winstanley, Eliza. ADB entry.
The Conversation essay on the author.
Shifting Scenes of a Theatrical Life. (1859) – link to Google Books


>Forward to books by Australian women published in the 1860s>

* Links to the Australian Dictionary of Biography online
** Biographical entry can be found via AustLit (log in via state library or other to access)

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. If you find other texts for this list, or better links to any of the books listed, please let us know via the contact page.