Elizabeth Macarthur’s life story revealed

Michelle Scoot Tucker explores the life of Elizabeth Macarthur in her new novel.
Michelle Scoot Tucker explores the life of Elizabeth Macarthur in her new novel.

“Elizabeth Macarthur is a household name in Camden – but she isn’t across the rest of Australia and she should be.”

That’s the belief of Australian author Michelle Scott Tucker who has a penned a new book about one of Macarthur’s famous historical women.

Her book Elizabeth Macarthur – A Life At The Edge of the World explores the farming woman’s life story, including her time at Camden Park.

Ms Scott Tucker said Mrs Macarthur’s life fascinated her from the very beginning.

“Her husband John Macarthur was on the $2 note but she was the one who shipped the first lot of wool to London while John was overseas,” she said.

“She helped to build up their farms – that’s tens of thousands of acres of land – while raising nine children.

“She was a key player in Sydney at the time, she met Charles Darwin, she knew Matthew Flinders and spent time with Governor Lachlan Macquarie.”

To research the book Ms Scott Tucker walked in Mr Macarthur’s footsteps.

“I visited Parramatta and Sydney and walked paths that she would have walked,” she said.

“I flew to where she was born in England and took a tour of the farm she was born at – which is still a working farm today.”

The avid writer said Mrs Macarthur’s marriage to John Macarthur was straight out of a Jane Austin novel.

“If we picture her as an Austin heroine, she was a gentleman’s daughter – except instead of marrying a Darcy she married a Wickham,” she said.

“John was a very tough man but it was clear that he loved her – we have proof that it was a love match because she gave birth to their first child just five months after the wedding.”

Ms Scott Tucker said it was important for different voices to be heard in the historical story of Australia

“A lot of the time when you think about the Australian farmer you picture a man in a hat,” she said.

“Very rarely do we hear womens’ stories. (They) were just as important to the farming industry as men were.

“I think people are tired of hearing the great white man narrative – they want the whole story.”

Elizabeth Macarthur – A Life At The Edge of the World is available in all bookstores, online and at the Camden Museum.