Mary Therese Vidal



Although Mary Vidal spent only five years in New South Wales she has been described as Australia's first woman novelist. She came to Australia with her husband, Francis Vidal, an English clergyman who came here for his health in 1840. He was appointed as minister at Penrith and preached throughout much of the surrounding district. He also bought a farm, apparently at what was then Cabramatta, but what is now Rossmore. While there, Mary Therese wrote a book Tales of the Bush which was published in eight sixpenny (five cents) parts and was written for her staff. Most of the heroines were servants whose mistress was always a kind generous lady whose warnings were always well received. Her servants were left in no doubt as to what was expected of them.

Her next two novels were published together in 1849 under the title Cabramatta and Woodleigh Farm.

The second was set in England but the first, The Cabramatta Store deals with the school, domestic and church life of the area. Mary had a daughter born at Minchinbury in 1841 who later married Edward Stone and was the mother of the author Faith Compton Mackenzie. The Vidals left Australia after five years partly because of a promise made by Francis and partly so the boys could go to school at Eton. Mary Therese died in England in 1869.