Her Selection | edited by Lynne Spender

Her Selection: Writings by Nineteenth-Century Australian Women was first published in 1988 by Penguin Books.

In her Introduction, Lynne Spender discusses her motivation for curating this selection. Previous collections had been put together ‘on the basis of accepted literary traditions rather than on women’s interests‘, with a focus on men, mateship and the outback. She states that

when women’s writing did not reflect nor promote this image of Australia and its new national heroes, their work was largely ignored.

She aims to rectify this with Her Selection. A selection that shows women learning to live in a new country very different from the one they left behind, whilst making a home and raising a family. Many of these stories also reveal how the women often had different attitudes towards and relationships with the Aboriginal people in their communities, compared to stories written by men at this time.

The collection includes letters written in the 1830’s from one of the first white colonists in WA, Georginana Molloy to Mary Gaunt who was one of the first group of women to attend university in Melbourne.

AuthorShort storyDates
Georgiana MolloyLetters1805-1843
Anna Maria BunnThe Guardian1808-1899
Louisa Anne MeredithOver the Straits1812-1895
Mary Theresa VidalTales for the Bush1815-1895
Annie Maria BaxterMemories of the Past1816-1905
Catherine Helen SpenceA Week in the Future1825-1910
Annabella BoswellAn Account of Early Port Macquarie1826-1914
Rachel HenningLetters1826-1914
Caroline Woolmer LeakeyThe Broad Arrow1827-1881
Mary Fortune (Waif Wander)Bertha’s Legacy1833-1911
Caroline Louisa AtkinsonTom Hellicar’s Children1834-1872
Ada CambridgeThe Perversity of Human Nature1844-1926
Catherine MartinThe Incredible Journey1847-1937
Jessie Couvreur (Tasma)Monsieur Caloche1848-1897
Louisa LawsonThe Dawn1848-1920
Rosa PraedAurea1851-1935
Mary GauntThe Uncounted Cost1861-1942
  • This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are this land’s first storytellers.

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