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On Catherine Currie’s Diary, 1873–1908


240 Pages, 5.91 x 7.87

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $29.95 (US $29.95) (CA $44.95)

Publication Date: October 1994

ISBN 9780522848366

Rights: US & CA

Melbourne University Press (Oct 1994)

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Catherine Currie began writing her diary at Ballan in 1873. Soon afterwards, she left with her husband and young children to take up a selection deep in the forests of west Gippsland. Catherine's life was one of unrelenting daily work, which she recorded faithfully in the diary. As the years wore on and her early pioneering optimism turned to disillusionment and sometimes despair, it also became a private confessional. This beautifully written and engrossing work uses parallel narratives to tell Catherine's story. Five skilfully written chapters catch the cadences of Catherine's diary, interweaving direct quotes with discreet comment and explanation. Between these chapters runs a twentieth century voice, offering thoughtful and lucid reflections on themes such as 'madness' and 'landscape', and illuminating Catherine's life for modern readers through the ideas of historians and theorists such as Michel Foucault and Paul Carter. Catherine is first and foremost a simple and moving story, bringing the reader into direct, vivid and personal contact with Catherine Currie. More subtly, it allows readers to glimpse those fine lines which separate life and text, chance and necessity, sanity and madness. A superb and moving study in both autobiography and biography, Catherine will give great pleasure to those many readers who delight in the subtlety of plain English.

Author Biography

Ailsa McLeary was a tutor in the Department of Economic History at Monash University when she was seconded as an editor of a volume of the Bicentennial History of Australia, Australians 1888. She wrote two chapters for the book, and edited and wrote for the journal connected with the project. Moving to the Department of History at Monash, she edited the Monash 'Publications in History' Series, contributing the volume of essays Time and Place: Essays on Modern Culture. She now teaches at RMIT in the Faculty of Art, Design and Communication. Tony Dingle teaches Economic History at Monash University. He has researched and published extensively in Australian and British history and his four books include Settling, volume 2 of The Victorians (1984); Aboriginal Economy: Patterns of Experience (1988); and Vital Connections: Melbourne and its Board of Works (1991).