This is an account of Australian women's travel from the 1870s until 1970, when jet travel altered the concept of this key Australian rite of passage. Drawing on numerous travel diaries, letters and interviews, it looks at the expectations of Australian women of all types and generations.
This is an account of Australian women's travel from the 1870s - when travel in Europe became popular - until 1970, when jet travel altered the concept of this key Australian rite of passage. Drawing on numerous travel diaries and letters and interviews, and mindful of her own decision in the 1960s to leave Australia as soon as she possibly could after leaving university, Roslyn Pesman analyzes the different needs and expectations of Australian women of all types and generations. For many, she argues, Europe - Britian in particular - seemed to promise a kind of "finish" or sophistication they could not attain in Australia. For some, presentation at Court and a refined accent offered a kind of nirvana, guaranteeing security and acceptability. For others - artists and intellectuals, such as Stella Bowen, Christina Stead, Henry Handel Richardson, Margaret Preston, Shirley Hazzard, Jill Kerr Conway, Jill Neville and Doris Gentile - it promised a kind of personal, sexual, political and intellectual freedom. Genteel notions of class and femininity were reinforced, while for others new ways of living were made possible. The lives of many of these women are largely unknown, and often astonishing in their variety and daring. What is surprising is the scale of the travel many Australian women undertook. The wife of one Tasmanian premier made 33 separate visits to Europe. In the 1930s, three times as many women were going to Europe as were men. After reading the book, it is difficult to think of a key Australian artist, intellectual or public figure who was not affected in some way by her adventures abroad.
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