Ethel Turner - Seven Little Australians

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.

A subscriber-only Zoom talk on Sunday 16 May 2021, 4.00 pm Australian Eastern Time (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra).

Don’t worry if you can’t make the Zoom timeslot – subscribers automatically receive this video talk.

“The reader cannot help but be charmed by Ethel Turner’s wonderful characters.”
― Kate Campbell

An enduring Australian classic

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.

Writing ahead of her time

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?

Still relevant today

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.

Discuss it with me

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.

Discuss it with me

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I only recommend books I have read or know. Some of these links are my affiliate links. If you buy a book by clicking on one of these links I receive a small commission. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but does help cover the cost of producing my free newsletter.
Featured image credit- Barbara Llewellyn, Mark Shields-Brown, Jennifer Cluff, Anna Hruby, Christian Robinson, Mark Clark, 7 Little Australians, 1973 ABC TV mini series, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0140763/

Comments (2)

  1. Anne Williams

    Hi Susannah, I had planned to watch your Zoom talk this afternoon, plans were interrupted by my visit to my garage after lunch to sort items, for either leaving for the new owners or disposal.
    I realised there were a number of paint tins along with various other tins containing chemicals I could not dispose of by putting in my normal garbage bin. After Google I discovered there was a recycle depot via the Council, happening today, a number of suburbs distance from me. I had no choice, I could not leave these items for the new owners of my place to have to deal with so I gathered them all into the boot of my car and took off to dispose of these chemicals properly, I made the depot with little time to spare. I move home a week from now so a good job down just in time.
    I will need to catch up with your talk during the next few days. I am sure it was a terrific hour, which I will enjoy soon after reading 7Little Australians and watching a movie. Anne

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Oh gosh, a move is such a big thing. I also have lots of old paint tins at my palce which will need to be safely disposed of one day.
      I hope you enjoy rereading the book and watching the video talk when you are less stressed. Good luck with the move.

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