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Praed, Rosa (1851 - 1935)

Born
27 March 1851
Bromelton, Queensland, Australia
Died
10 April 1935
Torquay, England
Occupation
Writer
Alternative Names
  • Mrs Campbell Praed (Birth Name)
  • Murray-Prior, Rosa
  • Rosa Caroline Praed (Pen Name)

Summary

Writing in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Rosa Praed covered many genres in her extensive bibliography, including books for children as well as adults. Rosa Murray-Prior began writing in her teens, contributing résumés and stories to the family's handwritten Marroon Magazine. She married Englishman Arthur Campbell Bulkley Praed, and four years later Rosa and her husband returned to England, where she continued to write. Praed revisited Australia only once, however she continued to rework her memories, and published her autobiography My Australian Girlhood in 1902. Other biographical work included Australian Life; Black and White (1885). She maintained contacts with relations and friends in Australia until her death. Writing as Mrs Campbell Praed, she produced more than forty-five books over the next four decades, approximately half of which deal with Australian material.

Details

Praed was the third child of Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior and Matilda Harpur, niece of poet Charles Harpur. Murray-Prior established a pastoral station in Queensland where he became a member of the Legislative Council and served as Post-Master General to three Prime Ministers during the latter half of the 19th century. Her father's political career in Queensland exposed Rosa to political discourses and the social world of the colony. These experiences were often reflected in her later books. She was educated at home by her mother and private tutors. She married on 29 October 1872 at St John's Church of England, Brisbane. Within a few weeks of their marriage, Arthur Praed took Rosa to his cattle station, Monte Christo, situated on Curtis Island, off the Queensland coast between Gladstone and Rockhampton. Rosa was glad to leave behind the lonely existence on Curtis Island to travel to England with her husband.

In 1882 Praed published Nadine, an intense psychological study drawing on the life of Olga Novikoff. She collaborated on four books with the Irish politician Justin McCarthy, who wrote voluminously to her on the progress of the Home Rule debate of the 1880s. She edited these letters as Our Book of Memories (1912). Her talents also extended to writing a dramatic play, Ariane, based on her novel, The Bond of Wedlock (1887). This ran for 100 performances in London's West End in 1888.

Rosa separated from her husband in 1897 and began living with a psychic medium, Nancy Harward. Much of her later fiction, some of which was written with Harward, reflects her devout belief in the supernatural. Her work includes acute analyses of the colonial mentality, especially of society women, whilst historical events and personages often supply background and characters for her novels. Rosa moved to Devon with Harward in the early 1920s and lived there until her death.

Sources used to compile this entry: Clarke, Patricia, Rosa! Rosa!: a life of Rosa Praed, novelist and spiritualist, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Victoria, 1999; Tiffin, Chris, 'Praed, Rosa Caroline (1851 - 1935)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, Canberra, 2006, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A110282b.htm.

Archival resources

John Oxley Library, Manuscripts and Business Records Collection, State Library of Queensland

  • Letter by Rosa Caroline Praed, c. 1886, OM78-58/15; Praed, Rosa Caroline; John Oxley Library, Manuscripts and Business Records Collection, State Library of Queensland. Details
  • Rosa Caroline Praed Papers, c. 1885 - c. 1930, OM64-01; Praed, Rosa Caroline; John Oxley Library, Manuscripts and Business Records Collection, State Library of Queensland. Details

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • Rosa Praed Letters 1901, 1901 - , Manuscript reference no. : NLA MS 9456. ; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

National Library of Australia, Pictorial Collection

Lee Butterworth

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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