My Hand Will Write what My Heart Dictates: The Unsettled Lives of Women in Nineteenth-century New Zealand as Revealed to Sisters, Family and Friends

Front Cover
Frances Porter, Charlotte Macdonald, Tui MacDonald
Bridget Williams Books, 1996 - Social Science - 518 pages
Put aside preconceptions of straitened Victorian ladies or robust colonial matrons. Here is an altogether more authentic picture, told in the words of the women themselves as taken from letters, journals, diaries and government records. From these rich, diverse (and largely unpublished) sources, Frances Porter and Charlotte Macdonald have built up a portrait of 'life as it happens' in nineteenth-century New Zealand. The women of this book are mainly Pakeha. They are domestic servants, governors' wives and farmers, married, single, widowed or deserted. They write about love, friendship, children, destitution, illness and grief. Maori women write about land, loss and love, about families and domestic events - in both Maori and English. Women whose ancestors had reached New Zealand centuries ago face the disruption of later arrivals; the settler women of colonial New Zealand cope with displacement in a new land. In these writings many very different women lament a homeland, live expectantly, and face an uncertain future as bravely as possible.

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