Rachel Henning (1826-1914)



Publication Details

Jones, D. L. (2001). Rachel Henning (1826-1914). In S. Samuels (Eds.), Dictionary of Literary Biography: Australian Literature, 1788-1914 (pp. 188-192). Detroit: Gale Group.


Rachel Henning's letters to family members, writen from England and Australia between 1853 and 1882, did not appear inprint until they were serialized in the Australian periodical The Bulletin by its editor, David Adams, from August 1851 to January 1952; they were first published in book form in 1952. The letters are now a widely published and distributed Australian classic as well as an important historical document offering a wealth of information on pioneering domestic life from a middle-class, Anglo-oriented viewpoint. Henning records her experiences in Australia - describing landscape, social attitudes, household tasks, the "servant problem", gardening, and the difficulties of maintaining a fashionable appearance in the bush. The letters are also a significant record of literary history: in her own reading Henning sought to keep abreast of current English fiction and poetry, so a keen literary sensibility informs her writing. Readers can observe, moreover, the author's gradual changes in attitude as a result of her colonial experience.

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