Jessie Couvreur

Jessie Catherine Couvreur (née Huybers, 184897), the novelist 'Tasma', migrated to Hobart with her family as a girl and was largely educated by her well-read mother. In 1867 she married and moved to Victoria, but her husband was unfaithful and she divorced him. She remarried in Europe, where she lectured on Australia and on her husband's death succeeded him as Brussels correspondent for The Times.

Couvreur's major writings were six novels and many short stories, often set in Australia, a number in 'the Arcadian island of Tasmania', that 'earthly Paradise', which provided a more positive view of the island than that given by her contemporary, Marcus Clarke. Her pseudonym 'Tasma' suggests attachment to her childhood home. Though her style could be heavy, her writings depicted clearly nineteenth-century urban middle-class Australian life.

Further reading: P Clarke, Tasma, Sydney, 1994.

Alison Alexander