Caroline Leakey


Simkinson de Wesselow's painting of Hobart in 1848, the year Caroline Leakey arrived there (AOT, PH30/1/403)

Caroline Woolmer Leakey (182781), novelist and poet, was born and died in Exeter (England), and lived in Tasmania, mainly Hobart, between 1848 and 1853. Her poetry collection, Lyra Australis; or, attempts to sing in a strange land, was published in London (1853). Her major work and only novel, The broad arrow; being passages from the history of Maida Gwynnham, a lifer, was published (London 1859, Hobart 1860) under the pseudonym 'Oliné Keese'. A roman à clef and an influential early convict novel, predating Marcus Clarke's For the term of his natural life (1874), it dramatises Leakey's concern for female convicts and the debates surrounding transportation, and details domestic life in Tasmania. Between 1861 and her death, Leakey published some twenty-five religious tracts. Leakey's writings are of considerable historical and literary interest.

Further reading: J Mead, '(Re)producing a text', Meridian 10/1, 1991; S Walker, 'Wild and wilful women', in D Adelaide (ed), A bright and fiery troop, Melbourne, 1988; G Winter, 'We speak that we do know', THRAPP 40/4, 1993.

Jenna Mead