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Elizabeth and Elizabeth

The story of Elizabeth and Elizabeth is elegantly told by narrative and personal letters exchanged over many years. Their tale, and it is one of great friendship, is set in the early days in the colony of New South Wales. Although many of us know historical facts surrounding their husbands, John Macarthur and Lachlan Macquarie, the day to day lives of the women are not so apparent.

Although there was not an issue of poverty in either household, both women struggled to support their much-loved husbands through times of great achievement and great loss. Betsy Macquarie arrived in Sydney Cove and was unprepared for the conditions in the fledgling settlement. Her husband was a forward thinker and planner, and she did all in her power to support him.

As Governor, Macquarie set in place many social reforms as well as erecting buildings and gardens. John Macarthur was a very astute pastoralist who had been given large areas of land. He was insistent that the imported Merino sheep he had were never to be interbred with local sheep and consequently developed a huge export market for their superb wool.

The women met shortly after Betsy’s arrival in Sydney and began a friendship that lasted till the end of their days. They were alike in so many ways. They both had ambitious husbands who viewed them as partners. They both wanted to retain their independence, work hard, and make their own mark in the new colony. These educated women grew to support each other and to understand the hidden heartbreak each one had to bear.

It is hard to imagine the early days around Sydney Harbour, but Sue Williams has skilfully brought home to the reader their story by sharing in the lives of these women, their love for their families and support for each other.

Author Sue Williams
Publisher Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781760631345
Distributor Allen & Unwin
Released January 2020