About the author
Mary-Anne O’Connor has a combined arts education degree with specialities in environment, music and literature. She works in marketing and co-wrote/edited A Brush with Light and Secrets of the Brush with Kevin Best.
Mary-Anne lives in a house overlooking her beloved bushland in northern Sydney with her husband Anthony, their two sons Jimmy and Jack, and their very spoilt dog Saxon. This is her fourth major novel. Her previous novels, Gallipoli Street (2015), Worth Fighting For (2016) and War Flower (2017), have all been bestsellers.
Words // Mary-Anne O’Connor
The Eureka Stockade is considered by most to be a story about men rising up against an oppressive and tyrannical government; a turning point in Australia’s history. It has long been overlooked, however, that this piece of history also contains a ‘herstory’ component, and like so much of our history, the female experience was intertwined with and directly affected by the male.
So, when I came to write my most recent historical saga In a Great Southern Land on this pivotal and fascinating chapter of Australia’s cultural evolution, I decided to make one of my central characters a victim, if not a direct part of, the Eureka Stockade… for what of the women who loved these men? Did they agree with the stand they were making? Did they realise the enormity of the moment? What power, indeed, did they have to change things, regardless of how they felt?
My character Eve Richards faces many of the harshest of life’s battles during these turbulent times, finding herself seduced by the master of the grand house in England where she works ‘under stairs’ and left destitute on the streets, only to end up in chains and exiled to faraway Australia. Fortune seems to smile on her when the handsome and charming Irishman – and new arrival himself – Kieran Clancy comes to her aid but, ultimately, he forces her to face the harshest moment of all: whether or not his Irish rebel heart will choose a fight for freedom over a lifetime of love with her.
The role of women in history has been written by those who wielded the pen and, when it came to times of warfare or political conflict, it was largely men who recorded what unfolded. But a women’s perspective can shed light on a whole other side to humanity’s story and I truly believe that in fiction we can explore the other side of the tale, open to every sense. Alive to every experience. In tune with every emotion that flowed through their hearts.
Herstory brings the whole tale back to life.
Keen to read more books about women in history?
WIN prizes valued at over $1000 with Herstory: Books that write Her back into History at harpercollins.com.au/herstory.