'That's what children are-nought but leg-ropes': Motherhood in Rosa Praed's Mrs. Tregaskiss

Document Type

Book Chapter

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This chapter explores the ways in which Rosa Praed plays with expectations for settler homes and revises constructions of frontier motherhood in Mrs Tregaskiss novel. Women writers of the fin de siecle offered new and complex portrayals of motherhood, responding to the specific debates and circumstances of their home locales. Praed expressed scepticism about the existence of maternal instinct and frustration with the expectation that all women should want to become mothers. Amy Lloyd explains that stories set in Australia were often about characters who acquire spectacular fortunes, often in goldfields, and that these stories overwhelmingly featured men. Emma Floyd discusses the ways in which Australian gentlewomen performed gentility in the bush, wearing appropriately feminine dress in public, furnishing the veranda or sitting room with piano, books and flowers. The novel attempts to envision Australia as a place where new and exciting possibilities might arise, but it anxiously enforces the boundaries of proper womanhood at the same time.



Publication Title

Domestic Fiction in Colonial Australia and New Zealand