Just released: ‘A Gentleman’s Daughter’

 

“. .  the Destiny of my life was cast on seeing for the first time an ‘Apollo’ in the handsome Captain Cowin of the 73rd Regiment. Even at this long period I blush to make this romantic confession, nevertheless the age of 12 may offer an excuse. ”

Lady Dowling: Daguerreotype photo print of carte de visite, around 1860.

I was reading the memoir of Lady Dowling*, a very distant forebear of my husband. I was already intrigued, but this was the passage that captured me. Three years later, I have finished putting together a short biography of this flighty, restless woman (for details, see under Publications on this site). What I’ve learned in the process includes:

  • Never believe a memoirist (they leave out all the interesting parts),
  • Never trust a man who keeps a journal (they put in all the interesting parts), and
  • Never think your research won’t be contradicted by your next search of Trove.

I’ve also learned that I’m not alone in grappling with a million writing dilemmas. With this knowledge, I’m continuing to explore the border zones of creativity in the portrayal of historical people and events.

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*Dowling, H. “Memoir of the Early Life of Harriott Mary Dowling Nee Blaxland: Or Sketches of India and Australia in Old Times.” In Dowling family papers 1767-1905: Manuscripts, Oral History & Pictures, State Library of New South Wales, Catalogue  DLMSQ 305, Item 5, 1875.

‘The Convict’s Daughter’ by Kiera Lindsey

Cover of ‘The Convict’s Daughter’ by Kiera Lindsey

This book is worth a read if you’re interested in a lively account of life in Sydney, NSW in 1848. Kiera Lindsey presents the story of Mary Ann Gill whose failed elopement with James Butler Kinchela was a public scandal of the times.  Her research into the case is presented in a deft combination of factual biography and dramatic action.

Lindsey, K. The Convict’s Daughter: The Scandal That Shocked a Colony. Allen and Unwin, 2016.