A Tea with a Book Addict talk
In an era when fiction was supposed to be about ‘good’ children, Ethel Turner dared to make her seven Aussie children naughty, getting into constant scrapes and sometimes getting away with them. In 1994 this was the only book by an Australian author to have been continuously in print for 100 years. Discover why it is such a beloved classic.
“The reader cannot help but be charmed by Ethel Turner’s wonderful characters.”
― Kate Campbell
On her 21st birthday, a young woman named Ethel Turner added a note to her diary: “Seven L. Aust. – sketched it out.” That was in 1893. One hundred years later, the book she had dreamed up would be the only book by an Australian author to have been continuously in print for one hundred years. Seven Little Australians is an Australian classic.
Ethel Turner went on to write children’s columns in newspapers and magazines, and she wrote more than 40 books. She married, brought up two children and had a busy social and professional life. She was not born Australian, and yet when her publisher suggested she go to England to gain some ‘English polish’, she resisted – she was determinedly Australian in her style and her themes, as well as her settings.
How did Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women influence her creation of the naughty Woolcot children? How much was she influenced by her rivalry with Mary Grant Bruce, whose Billabong novels were constant competition for her? How was she ahead of her time in her writing about Aboriginal Australians, and in the feminist and matriarchal novels that she wrote? What social concerns drove her to pick up her pen?
Seven Little Australians was set in Sydney in the 1880s. Yet the lessons of the novel are as relevant today as when the book first appeared. What do the Woolcots learn? And what do we learn as readers? Revisit and celebrate this fabulous Australian novel and learn about the remarkable woman who wrote it.
In an era when fiction was supposed to be about ‘good’ children, Ethel Turner dared to make her seven Aussie children naughty, getting into constant scrapes and sometimes getting away with them. Let’s discuss it here.