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The Talented Mrs Greenway

Tea Cooper has woven an engaging tale around the life story of Francis Greenaway and his wife Mary. Her research and understanding of the times past, in recently settled NSW, enriches our knowledge of those early days. 

We meet many familiar characters in this story, such as Elizabeth and Lachlan Macquarie. It is also interesting to look at the architecture of NSW with fresh eyes, as Francis Greenaway was responsible for designing The Barracks, and the Government stables, now the Music Conservatory.

The Talented Mrs Greenway begins in England. There is very little known about Francis’ wife Mary. Tea has painted her as being married to a sadistic man who fortunately died early on in their marriage. By then Mary had two children and had met Francis.

As a crime of forgery had been committed, both Mary and Francis left England for the Australian colony. Governor Macquarie was desperate for an architect to begin new buildings and as Francis had a letter of recommendation, he was quickly employed. The setting for the Colony is wonderfully described by the author, and we get a sense of just what life was like in those days.

It seems that Francis was rather arrogant and when Governor Macquarie retired, the architect’s work dried up. Mary was determined that her children be properly educated and to supplement their income, she began a small school.

When she passed away a death notice in later papers of the time praise Mary for her kindness and dedication to children in her school. Francis however is buried in an unmarked grave. Strange, for a man whose face graced our $10 notes for some years. However, this is Mary’s story, and her strength and determination contributed to the foundation of our nation.

Author Tea Cooper
Publisher Harper Collins Publishers Australia Imprint HQ Fiction.
ISBN 9781867239215
Distributor Harper Collins Publishers Australia
Released November 2023