Mary Theresa Vidal (International) assertion Mary Theresa Vidal i(A23993 works by) (birth name: Mary Theresa Johnson) (a.k.a. Mrs Francis Vidal)
Born: Established: 25 Jul 1815 Devon (County),
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England,
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United Kingdom (UK),
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Western Europe, Europe,
; Died: Ceased: 19 Nov 1873 Suffolk,
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England,
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United Kingdom (UK),
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Western Europe, Europe,

Gender: Female
Visitor assertion Arrived in Australia: 1840 Departed from Australia: 1845
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BiographyHistory

After marrying Francis Vidal, the local curate at Torrington in 1835, Mary Theresa Vidal accompanied her husband to New South Wales in 1840. Francis Vidal served in several parishes southwest of Sydney, including Penrith, South Creek, Minchinbury and Denham Court. The Vidals also purchased land, apparently planning to establish themselves as pastoralists. But several years of drought, the disappearance of cheap labour after transportation ceased in 1840, and the Bank of Australia crash in 1843 combined to dash these plans. Financial strife might have influenced Mary Vidal to pen Tales for the Bush which was brought out by a Sydney publisher in eight sixpenny parts during 1844. But any income from this made little difference. The Vidal's abandoned their land and returned to England early in 1845.

Mary Vidal wrote ten more books, but most have little to with Australia. Nevertheless, she is often recognised as one of the earliest women fiction-writers in Australia. According to the Oxford Companion to Australian Literature, Tales for the Bush offers a 'series of brief, morally edifying stories intended to instil a proper sense of Christian duty into servants and other members of the lower social classes'. The first section of Cabramatta, and Woodleigh Farm (1850) is set in the Nepean district of New South Wales and details domestic life amidst stock elements of pioneer narratives such as bushrangers, droughts, floods and bushfires. Vidal's better-known work, Bengala: Or, Some Time Ago was published in 1860. The novel is set in a small colonial community, providing a background for a melodramatic and romantic tale. It was republished in 1990 in the UNSW Colonial Texts series. Vidal's remaining novels are primarily concerned with English provincial life.

Shortly after her return to England, Vidal went to Eton to help her brother set up a residential house for students. She and her husband managed the residence for fourteen years. In declining health, the Vidals began to spend summers in southern Europe during the 1860s. Francis Vidal eventually took up a parish in Sutton, Suffolk, where Mary died of meningitis in 1873.

Most Referenced Works

Notes

  • Miller and Macartney lists eight more novels of English provincial life that have no Australian connections.
  • See also the full Australian Dictionary of Biography Online entry for Mary Theresa Vidal.
Last amended 21 Oct 2008 09:39:20
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