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Jeannie Gunn was the daughter of Thomas Johnstone Taylor, a journalist on the Argus. As a girl she was educated at home by her mother and in 1888 she went to the Melbourne University. With her sisters Lizzie and Carrie, she conducted a private boarding school, Rolyat (reverse of Taylor), in Creswick St, Hawthorn, Vic.
In Dec 1901 Jeannie married Aeneas Gunn, the Prahran City Librarian. He had had some experience on WA and NT cattle stations, and had at the time of their marriage accepted the post of manager of 'Elsey', a cattle station at Elsey Creek, a tributary of the Roper River in the NT. At that time the NT was annexed to SA. Jeannie went there with him in 1902, but he died in March 1903, and she returned to Melbourne.
Much of Jeannie's later life was spent helping injured soldiers and their families. She was awarded the OBE in 1939. Her two books about life in the NT outback achieved enormous popularity. Green, in his History of Australian Literature (rev. ed. 1985, vol. 1, p. 644) quotes a plebiscite conducted by a Melbourne newspaper 'not many years ago' which placed Mrs Gunn third, after Clarke and Boldrewood, among Australian novelists.
She wrote The Little Black Princess as a result of interest shown by Melbourne friends whenever she described the life and people on the cattle station 'Elsey'.