Letters to Grace: Writing Home from Colonial New Zealand

NZ Politics, Social History & Religion | SECONDHAND

This remarkable collection of letters provides a rare female perspective on life in colonial Canterbury, when letter writing was the only way to keep a close relationship with family members on the other side of the world. The writers were four women of the Hall family. Unlike Charlotte Godley and Lady Barker, whose correspondence, experiences and impressions of the time have been widely promulgated, the Hall women were anonymous members of the middle class in England with no ties with the aristocracy. But ironically, the letters are significant partly because all four were the wives of public men in New Zealand, Rose being wife of Sir John Hall, who was Premier of New Zealand 1879-82. Sarah, Agnes Emma and Rose were married to three Hall brothers, and the youngest correspondent was Agnes' daughter, Agnes Mildred. The recipient was the elder women's sister-in-law, Grace Neall, in England. The women were typical of their time in that their lives and their letters focused on children, household duties, health, housing and servants. Outside the home, the main topics were church, shopping and social events, with Rose also occasionally commenting on her husband's political life. The letters came to light in England in 2008, found by a great-grandson of Grace, Tim Rix. He sent them to his distant cousin Kate Foster. Accompanying the annotated transcriptions of these letters, published here for the first time, is a superb essay by historian Jean Garner, introducing the Hall family and placing them, and this correspondence, in an appropriate historical context.


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Product Information

General Fields

  • : Canterbury University Press
  • : 228mm X 175mm
  • : 9781877257988
  • : Canterbury University Press
  • : April 2011
  • : general