I always enjoy learning the history of places I visit, and while living for a time on the beautiful mid-
I became curious about the lifestyle and conditions there in the nineteenth century, particularly for women. A friend loaned me a book of ‘Rachel Henning’s Letters’-
This made me curious about the lifestyle and conditions for all women in the nineteenth century. What my research found was that women then had few rights and were dominated by the men of the time, and not all women led the pleasant life enjoyed by Rachel Henning.
Women then had few rights, and were dominated by the men of the time, not just in Bulahdelah, but everywhere.
The law in that era stated that that when a woman married, all her assets became her husband’s property, and the law gave him the right to force her to obey him in every area of her life. This meant she was totally dependent on him for everything, both financially and emotionally. If he turned out to be heartless, violent or miserly, she had little or no recourse.
Prior to her marriage, she must obey her father, and when she married all her property became her husband's on the day of their marriage. She became virtually his chattel, to treat as he wished. Women were considered to be physically, emotionally and intellectually inferior to men, and the patronising attitudes of the time meant that the judiciary, all male, took the view that whatever the man did was right.
This meant that a woman was meant to be an obedient homemaker and bedwarmer for her husband, while not expecting sexual pleasure herself!
Throughout history there have, of course, been many women who have become influential in their own right. But they were either rulers, like Elizabeth 1, in England, or Catherine of Russia, or else they were wives, mistresses or concubines of influential men. Many of them had great power. Strong, powerful women.
But what of the ordinary, everyday women who had the spirit to rebel against this injustice – women who refused to be browbeaten by the men? And if they defied custom – could they face the results of going against the conventions of the day?
Happiness – and love – could not have been easy!
It was these findings that incensed me, and provoked me into writing the first novel in the Redwoods series.
I hope you find the manner in which Kitty, my central character, coped with the restrictions of the era and found independence, will interest you as much as the research for this novel interested me.
The second and third books look at Kitty’s subsequent life, and that of her daughter Joy, and Joy’s friend Lily, beginning with the commencement of the new century... a time of hope and new beginnings... at their relationships, and burning ambitions.
As for the relationships and emotions of the characters – well, allowing for the difference in the conventions of the time – they’re not all that different from those of people today. Times change, but people don’t.
Over the centuries we have all had similar needs and desires – for a good life, security, a loving partner... a wish for love is strong in all of us. And we all experience similar emotions at times. Love, hate, fear, anger, frustration. We all have different ways of dealing with them, and so it is for the people of Redwoods.
I hope you will enjoy reading about them as much as I have enjoyed telling their stories.
The story behind the Redwoods Series