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Old 05-28-2012, 03:11 PM   #1
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Vidal, Mary Theresa: The Convict Laundress. V1. 28 May 2012

Mary Theresa Vidal (23 June 1815 - 19 November 1873) was a British-Australian writer described as Australia's first female novelist. Mary was the daughter of Britton William Johnson and his wife, Mary Theresa, daughter of P. W. Furse. She was a sister of William Johnson, author of Ionica, who took the name of Cory in 1872. She married the Rev. Francis Vidal and came to Australia in 1840. Her husband had an extensive parish to the south-west of Sydney. In 1845 her first book, Tales for the Bush, was published in Sydney and soon afterwards she returned with her husband to England. Ten other volumes of tales and novels were published between 1846 and 1866 in which the author sometimes made use of her experiences in Australia. Some of these books ran into more than one edition. She died in 1873 and was survived by her husband, six sons and a daughter.

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On approaching the kitchen I found one of the servants, a convict, leaning on the table—a solitary, heart-broken creature! Hour after hour, day after day, did that woman work, and often till late at night, and never was there more faithful or more devoted service than hers. Was there a trouble, or an ailment, or an extra job, it was, 'Go to Grace Allen.'
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