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CAROLINE CHISHOLM

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On the jacket Sarah Goodman makes an extravagant statement – “ How one extraordinary woman helped shape a nation.” Then she proceeds to write a fascinating biography of Caroline Chisholm to uphold, and prove, her claim. For too long this early settler in Australia has been ignored, and apart from using her image on one of our bank notes for some time, was not even a name recognised by most.

Hopefully this fine book will alter all that.

The other statement on the dust jacket is “An Irresistible Force”, and this claim is also substantiated in no uncertain manner.

Caroline did not come from the upper classes in England, but she had no hesitation in approaching the upper classes in Sydney in the mid-18oos.

When she first became aware of the plight of most of the “bounty girls”, she went to the Governor to state her case, and such was her confidence and knowledge of the situation, that life began to change for these down-trodden young women. She established homes for them, and found them paid work – perhaps the very first employment agency in this country? There is an interesting development from her original idea on the Victorian goldfields.

She persuaded the government to set up “shelter sheds” along the routes to the goldfields, keeping miners safely housed on their way. Also only a couple of days after the Eureka uprising, she wrote to the papers deploring the handling of the affair by Sir Charles Hotham. This letter, a fine link to Ballarat, is quoted in full , as Sarah Goodman explores the life of her astonishing subject.

Caroline Chisholm died, in England, in 1877.

Tributes were paid to her memory from Rockhampton to Hobart to Fremantle, all acknowledging the remarkable contribution she had made to place Australia firmly on the world map. Now,at last, we have a biography worthy of her, thanks to the research and dedication of Sarah Goodman.

CAROLINE CHISHOLM by SARAH GOODMAN PUBLISHED by HARPER COLLINS for a recommended $39.99