Challenging the Editing of the Rachel Henning Letters


From Exmoor Station in North Queensland in 1862 Rachel Henning composed a letter to her sister--'My dearest Etta'. She wrote of an incident the previous night as the homestead party sat at table, when the station overseer, Patrick Devlin, suddenly detected smoke. 'We all started up,' wrote Rachel, 'it was my muslin dress,' and in an instant, 'the whole front was in a blaze'. The man of the moment was Patrick Devlin, who without a second's thought 'seized it all in his hands and crushed the fire out'. Rachel wrote in sober tones the following day to Etta; she allowed it had been 'a narrow escape', and she was much in debt to 'Mr. Devlin' for his promptitude and valour (R toE, 8.12.62). For all who have read Rachel's published letters this story of her crinoline fire will be quite unknown, for this account and a great deal more contained in the original Henning letters has never appeared in print and no advice of this abridgment has ever been stated in the much published work The Letters of Rachel Henning.

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Published 1 October 1994 in Volume 16 No. 3. Subjects: Correspondence, Editing, 19th Century Women Writers.

Cite as: Allingham, Anne. ‘Challenging the Editing of the Rachel Henning Letters.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 16, no. 3, 1994, doi: 10.20314/als.80c951f265.