Tag Archives: Seven Little Australians

Launching New Blog – Tea With Ethel Turner.

Last week , I launched a new blog – Tea With Ethel Turner – and I’d love you to come over and and hopefully follow me over there as well.

Ethel Turner is such an inspiration. Best known for her 1894 classic: Seven Little Australians, she wrote 40 novels for young adults, diaries, and edited children’s pages in a range of publications. Obviously, she was a very prolific writer, and I doubt she ever suffered from writer’s block for long.

It’s also worth noting that Ethel Turner wrote with a view of having her work published and read widely. Unlike so many writers, her work didn’t spend years in her bottom drawer. Indeed, even when she was at school, she and her older sister produced a rival school newspaper after her work had been rejected.

Then, as time went by and she was editing the Sunbeams pages in the Sun newspaper, it was Ethel doing the rejecting and lamenting a lack of space to publish the works of more of her young contributors. She also encouraged young children to write and gave them writing advice as well as broadening their general knowledge and exposure to literary classics. It also seems she was trying to build a new and better world after the horrors of the Great War, and these children were that future.

Above: Ethel with her older sister Lillian.

So, bearing all that in mind, I had enough material and inspiration to sink a battleship, and I felt she deserved her own bubble, and Beyond the Flow should remain my own space. That as much as I revere and admire Ethel Turner, I didn’t want to become her alone. I still have such a diverse range of other writing interests.

Here are links to my posts so far:

Ethel Turner enjoying her chair in the sun at home 1915.

Meanwhile, now that I’ve launched into this, I can’t help wondering what I’ve got myself into. Sure, I’ve unearthed a a veritable treasure trove, but I’d only read two of her books, and barely stuck my nose into her biography by AT Yarwood: From A Chair in the Sun and a complication of her diary entries by her grand-daughter, Philippa Poole. What was I thinking? Yet, I’ve also been working incredibly hard. I’ve read years worth of her “Chief Sunbeamer” columns as well as numerous press interviews and reviews. The advantage of blogging is that you can in effect publish as you go, and you can also correct any mistakes, embellish here and there before it’s set in stone in print. I am also a firm believer in collaborative research, especially when it comes to such an superlative shaper of Australian literature, culture and young minds. She is too big for one mind.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and hope you might join me on this exciting journey of discovery.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Poetry Memorised By Ethel Turner: Self-Dependence – Mathew Arnold

Tonight, I’ve been reading through Ethel Turner’s diary. You could say I’ve become totally obsessed by this incredible author of Seven Little Australians, and around 39 other novels written for children and young adults. Ethel Turner also had a passion for educating and mentoring young Australians through children’s pages in a number of publications. I don’t believe this is a quote, but if you want to be like Rome, you have to act like Rome. That’s another reason why I’m ploughing the depths I’ve never aspired to write a novel. Poetry, flash fiction and possibly the short story are more my forte. I also have fits and starts at writing a diary. However, I don’t just write a few lines – a bare skeleton of what’s happened. Rather, my entries are far more voluminous and I’m pouring my heart out onto the page. It also means I don’t necessarily write that often in my diary. I don’t have the time, and a simple notebook hardly has the space. I could fill one book in a sitting some days.

Anyway, aside from her success as a published author and journalist, I also appreciate Ethel Turner’s perceptive insight into people, the human condition and the ups and downs of life. Even more than a hundred s later, her insights and observations are just as true to life now as they were then.

So, if I want to write and be published like Ethel Turner, I need to do what she did. Although she didn’t have a formal university education, it seems she developed her own educational program which not only included extensive reading, she also actively worked to maintain her maths to the matriculation levels she’d achieved. Indeed, after her beloved friend Annie Christian passed away, she seemed to find comfort in doing quadratic equations. I’m not going to go that far to keep up with her, but I am going to chase up the list of poems she memorised.

So, in sharing this poem with you, I’m not sharing her words, but some of the fuel which nurtured her incredible mind. This poem by Matthew Arnold certainly speaks to me. My serious health issues have all but scuttled my career. Yet, I haven’t given up on finding some form of meaningful paid work. During the week, I finally pressed send on my short story for the SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition. Could this be the vehicle for getting myself established? I am down on knees and praying this comes through, although goodness knows what it will means if my dreams actually start to unfold.

Anyway, without any further ado, here’s the poem:

Self-Dependence – Mathew Arnold

Weary of myself, and sick of asking

What I am, and what I ought to be,

At this vessel’s prow I stand, which bears me

Forwards, forwards, o’er the starlit sea.

And a look of passionate desire

O’er the sea and to the stars I send:

“Ye who from my childhood up have calm’d me,

Calm me, ah, compose me to the end!

“Ah, once more,” I cried, “ye stars, ye waters,

On my heart your mighty charm renew;

Still, still let me, as I gaze upon you,

Feel my soul becoming vast like you!”

From the intense, clear, star-sown vault of heaven,

Over the lit sea’s unquiet way,

In the rustling night-air came the answer:

“Wouldst thou be as these are? Live as they.

“Unaffrighted by the silence round them,

Undistracted by the sights they see,

These demand not that the things without them

Yield them love, amusement, sympathy.

“And with joy the stars perform their shining,

And the sea its long moon-silver’d roll;

For self-poised they live, nor pine with noting

All the fever of some differing soul.

“Bounded by themselves, and unregardful

In what state God’s other works may be,

In their own tasks all their powers pouring,

These attain the mighty life you see.”

O air-born voice! long since, severely clear,

A cry like thine in mine own heart I hear:

“Resolve to be thyself; and know that he,

Who finds himself, loses his misery!”

I’d be interested to hear if this poem touches you in any way.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 6th September, 2021.

Welcome To Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Some days, you need to tell Winter it isn’t Spring. However, today it’s the reverse. Now, we’re into Spring, it’s cold and the heater’s on again. Of course, yours truly who was quickly jumping on here before going on a walk, is now re-evaluating the state of affairs outside and considering hibernation instead. I think I might’ve mentioned “tomorrow” before.

Yesterday, was Father’s Day here. It wasn’t the most exciting Father’s Day we’ve ever had. We couldn’t even get out there and go shopping due to lockdown let alone get down to Sydney to see my dad. Our daughter also worked at McDonalds all afternoon. However, I did manage to order Geoff a great t-shirt from Tasmania. My friend was telling me about how she visited this place that handmade spoons when she was down there, and while we were chatting on the phone, I Googled the place. I thought very seriously about buying one of their spoons for our 20th wedding anniversary this Thursday. However, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it, and so I just went for the shirt. Geoff is very handy, and while he isn’t into wood turning, he’s always fixing something at home and using tools so it seemed like a great gift.

Anyway, we had a bit of unexpected theatre with the packaging. The t-shirt arrived very well camouflaged inside a cute little cardboard box so I decided not to interfere with it and give it to him as is. However, what I didn’t notice until he came to unwrap it, was that it had been sent in a re-used box from Lush Cosmetics. They make handmade soap which we’re usually really allergic to. On top of that, even those of you who don’t know Geoff very well, would spend a minute with him and know he just not a Lush kind of bloke. The other angle to this story, is that Geoff often wraps presents in deceptive boxes, especially computer castoffs from work. So, he’s giving you a $20.00 book, but you think you’ve received a $2000 laptop. So, it was quite apt that Geoff’s t-shirt would come disguised as fancy soap albeit without the scent. He deserved it.

Meanwhile, we are still in lock down. Overnight, 1, 282 cases were reported, which is pretty shocking for us when we were used to having no cases at all. I don’t know whether this increased case load was inevitable and we were just lucky it didn’t hit sooner. However, the way I see it, we were given this incredible gift of being covid free, and we needed to maintain and protect that with zeal. To have the gift and break it, to me is a greater loss. We knew what was at stake, and I wouldn’t say we’ve blown it yet but we certainly need to play our cards very carefully. We also need to know that those who are playing our hand, are being cautious and yet at the same time trying to get us out of this wretched lock down soon. I know that might sound like mission impossible with one leg going forward and the other leg in reverse. However, perhaps that’s what wisdom’s all about – a precarious balancing act. Not only that. I think it also takes listening to advisers and a diverse range of opinions, and above all else, individuals who don’t believe they have all the answers themselves. Consultation is important, and it certainly isn’t a sign of weakness.

I managed to get out more last week. Geoff and I went out to check out the local wildflowers, especially the Waratahs, which are conveniently growing beside the road not far from here. These magnificent grand flowers are our state floral emblem and are very rare in the wild and such a treat. There was also an abundance of these captivating golden flowers from the pea family. They glowed like lightbulbs in the sun and were pure magic. So, you could say I was rather blessed, and I am definitely most thankful, but I still miss my close friends and my mum and dad, aunts, uncles, cousins – a wealth of people I always took for granted. I don’t anymore.

You can read more about my walk in my previous post here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/09/06/going-on-a-waratah-hunt/

Meanwhile, I am rapidly advancing down the pathway towards obsession. It’s a quality not unknown to myself, but I’ll blame lockdown for the latest development. I’ve become absolutely obsessed with Australian author, Ethel Turner, who wrote Seven Little Australians and 39 other novels in addition to editing children’s columns in several newspapers. Seven Little Australians was published in 1894 when she was 24 years old and so she’s hardly current. Yet, that doesn’t mean that she’s not contemporary in that way that very perceptive people are. She seems to have an incredible insight into people, and characterization and the challenges they face. One of the issues I find particularly interesting is how she writes about death and characters facing death. I don’t know about you, but I’ve prayed for people who are dying and some of them pull through and others don’t and it does make me ponder about the point of it all. So does young Nell in the sequel to Seven Little Australians, The Family At Misrule. So much has changed in the last 120+ years. Yet, we’re still human and growing up is still a complicated and challenging business. Anyway, my obsession is on hold at the moment pending the arrival of my eBay packages. Don’t you just love eBay especially in lock down?!! I’m not the only one here eagerly awaiting packages either.

Well, that’s about all I’m allowed to share.

I hope you’ve all had a good week and things are going well!

Anyway, this has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 16th August, 2021.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you? I hope you’ve had a good couple of weeks, and I apologise for my intermittent appearances. I’ve been out of synch for awhile, which isn’t going to change any time soon. In case you’re not aware, I live in Greater Sydney and we’ve been in a covid lockdown since the 26th June and as of Saturday 6.00pm, the rest of the state joined us as well. This is life living alongside the Delta variant.

Would you like a cup of tea? However, this cup of tea has also been in lockdown, and is well and truly cold by now.

Of course, no one’s happy with this extended lockdown and those of you who have experienced far worse, might well be thinking we had this reality check coming. However, the numbers are still comparatively low, and this is largely precautionary. However, perhaps the worst thing about this statewide lockdown, is that it at least seems to be the result of the selfish actions of just a couple of people. With contacts being traced nd DNA tracking of the virus, it’s difficult to hide, and these individuals must be mighty pleased they’re no living in the Middle Ages when mob rule would’ve exacted its own justice.

It is strange being in lockdown, and yet it’s been a fairly universal experience at least at some point. For us, there are quite a few positives, as well as some not insignificant losses. My husband’s been able to work from home for almost the last 18 months. He’s a Senior IT Network Engineer at Macquarie University in Sydney and it’s usually a very hands on role. However, again thanks to technology, he can do most of his work remotely, and he’s been able to use the three hours travel time to renovate the house. We should probably be doing more together making most of this time, but we’re both busy. I’ve made huge progress on my research project writing short bios of WWI soldiers incorporating family and personal history. Our son has been the hardest hit and hovers in limb, while our old daughter is avoiding school via zoom and has converted our home into a dance studio.

This view overlooking Pearl Beach and across to Lion Island is only a 5 minute drive away.

Another interesting aspect to lock down where we live, is that we live in a beautiful location walking distance to the beach and a short drive away from so much stunning scenery. While we’ve been told in no uncertain terms to stay home, we are allowed to exercise outdoors with our household, or with one other friend. So, if you’re fit and healthy, can work from home, and are a true introvert, you could well be having the time of your life. If you don’t like shaking strangers’ hands and have a thing for hand sanitizer, it could well be a boon for you too. While I am incredibly grateful to be locked down in a scenic paradise, I am a true blue extrovert and I really miss seeing my friends collectively in person and seeing all of them and not just their head on a screen. That is a heartfelt ache too, not just a “would be nice”. I have a few good groups of friends and I miss doing like with them collectively and being part of a loving, intimate, touchy-feely herd. What’s more I think that needs to be said. Acknowledged and possibly shouted from the rooftops, because this current situation is anything but normal and I don’t want us to stop striving for what we in Sydney had pretty much regained. This is not the reality we want to have.

Anyway, I have enjoyed a few walks, including a walk along the waterfront at nearby Woy Woy. Perhaps, some of you have heard of Woy Woy before. British comedian Spike Milligan put Woy Woy on the map with the Goon Show, and his mother used to live there. These days with everyone in lockdown, it looks like the pelicans have taken over. The local Vinnies with it’s large glass windows, has become something of a mausoleum with a family frozen in time decked out in their Winter woolens. There was also a tea cup poised on apile of books on a coffee table beautifully decked out with a tablecloth. I admire how much love and attention to detail has goes into preparing the window displays, even in second hand shops. It seems to speak of such optimism and hope. That you’re not on your last legs just because you need to buy second hand.

View into Vinnies street d me.

Meanwhile, I’ve finished reading Ethel Turner’s 1894 novel: Seven Little Australians. It’s the story of widower, Captain Woolcot and six six children who has remarried a much younger woman and at this point in the story is 20 years old and has a baby. The story is told in the first person and it feels like Ethel Turner is talking to you herself, giving the book a very intimate and personal feel. She tells you right from the outset that this book is about naughty children, and isn’t a moral tale. This is entertainment and it makes you laugh, but there’s also more than just a reflective undertone and there’s definitely some character improvement along the way. Ethel Turner was only 23 when she wrote the book and it jettisoned her to international success attracting praise from the likes of Mark Twain. Anyway, I’d encourage you to read it. It’s usually classed as a children’s book, but it’s more what we now call young adult fiction, and I loved reading it myself. So I’d say age is no boundary, and I’ve also read praise from troops reading it on the Western Front in WWI. So, it’s appeal seems rather universal. If you’d like to read it, it’s available via Project Gutenberg here: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/4731/4731-h/4731-h.htm

By the way, if you’re interested in history and family history, you might appreciate a post I wrote this week about trying to unravel the story of nine year old Brenda Taylor, whose father apparently died of wounds in Gallipoli and for this reason, she wants to become a nurse: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/08/08/wwi-gallipoli-when-daddy-didnt-come-home-brenda-taylors-story/

I also wrote a post about celebrating my birthday during lockdown: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/08/14/the-ghosts-of-birthdays-past/

How has your week been? I hope it’s gone well.

This is another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS: The dogs wanted to have the last word:

Zac on my lap. I call him my “Productivity Manager” . Having a big dog on your lap who suddenly turns deaf when you’re trying to get out of your chair doesn’t do wonders for my productivity and the keyboard doesn’t always work at its peak either bouncing up and down on his back.
This is Lady and Rosie. This photo is very misleading on Rosie’s part as she’s usually harassing us to throw the ball and is a pure working dog.

Thought I’d better do her justice:

Needless to say, Rosie can be annoying. She is currently drop dropping her ball on my keyboard.