"The following Letter from Port Jackson, dated Nov., 14, 1788, is written by a Female Pen" [in] The London Chronicle. A. FEMALE PEN.
"The following Letter from Port Jackson, dated Nov., 14, 1788, is written by a Female Pen" [in] The London Chronicle.

"The following Letter from Port Jackson, dated Nov., 14, 1788…
"The following Letter from Port Jackson, dated Nov., 14, 1788, is written by a Female Pen" [in] The London Chronicle.

London: 28 May, 1789.

Broadsheet, 8 pp. comprising a complete issue of the London Chronicle, original tax stamp; disbound; with a manuscript signature of "Haunlon Wilson"

The first published account of life in Sydney by a woman

The first published account of life in Sydney by a woman, and a letter of some descriptive power: 'every one is so taken up with their own misfortunes, that they have no pity to bestow upon others.' First-hand accounts by women of the earliest phase of European settlement in Australia are extremely rare.

The first published account of life in Sydney by a woman, and a letter of some descriptive power: 'every one is so taken up with their own misfortunes, that they have no pity to bestow upon others.' First-hand accounts by women of the earliest phase of European settlement in Australia are extremely rare.
'I take the first opportunity that has been given us, to acquaint you with our disconsolate situation in this solitary waste of the creation. Our passage, you may have heard by the last ships, was tolerably favourable; but the inconveniences suffered for want of shelter, bedding, &c. are not to be imagined by any stranger. However, we have now two streets, if four rows of the most miserable huts you can possibly conceive of, deserve that name: windows they have none, as from the Governor's house &c., now nearly finished, no glass could be spared; so that lattices of twigs are made by our people to supply their places. At the extremity of the lines, where, since our arrival, the dead are buried, there is a place called the Church-yard; but we hear as soon as a sufficient quantity of bricks can be made, a church is to be built, and named St. Philip, after the Governor. Notwithstanding all our presents, the savages still continue to do us all the injury they can, which makes the soldiers duty very hard, and much dissatisfaction among the officers. I know not how many of our people have been killed.
'As for the distresses of the women, they are past description, as they are deprived of tea and other things they were indulged in, in the voyage, by the seamen; and as they are all totally unprovided with clothes, those who have young children are quite wretched. Besides this, though a number of marriages have taken place, several women, who became pregnant on the voyage, and are since left by their partners, who have returned to England, are not likely even here to form any fresh connections. We are comforted with the hopes of a supply of tea from China, and flattered with getting riches when the settlement is complete, and the hemp which this place produces is brought to perfection. Our kangaroo cats (sic) are like mutton, but much leaner; and here is a kind of chickweed so much in taste like our spinach, that no difference can be discerned. Something like ground ivy is used for tea; but a scarcity of salt and sugar makes our best meals insipid. The separation of several of us to an uninhabited island was like a second transportation. In short, every one is so taken up with their own misfortunes, that they have no pity to bestow upon others. All our letters are examined by an officer; but a friend takes this for me personally. The ships sail to-night.'
The letter has since been printed as the first entry in Patricia Clarke and Dale Spender's Life Lines, and they speculate that the author may have been on board Lady Penrhyn (which had half of the convict women), and also offer the reminder that a surprising number of the women of the First Fleet were literate: 'over a quarter of the women who arrived on the First Fleet and who married within the next two years were able to write their names in the marriage register.' Nonetheless, despite the many tantalising clues - the author seems to suggest that she was transported to Norfolk Island - identifying the author remains an unlikely task, even despite her high standard of education.

Price (AUD): $5,850.00  other currencies     Ref: #4102430

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