The deadline is fast approaching, my new book will soon be launched. I guess I will miss the presence of Margaret Catchpole having lived with her for so long. I hope she will rest easy now that her story has been told, now that her identity and her history has been returned to her. Here is a short precis or her story.
The moon rose late on the night in 1797 when Margaret Catchpole rode John Cobbold’s horse to London. Did she steal it or borrow it? Did she act alone or did she have accomplices? Horse stealing was a capital offence in Georgian England. Did she risk her life for love, friendship or freedom?
Margaret Catchpole was just one among the thousands of convict women transported to New South Wales but she was the only one whose name has rarely been absent from print since the day in August 1797 when she stood before the Bury Summer Assizes and heard her death sentence announced.
Through the eleven letters she wrote to friends and family in Suffolk, presented together possibly for the first time, Margaret Catchpole–Her Life and Her Letters investigates and reinstates the life story of the woman whose identity became so blurred she was thought to be a myth—or someone else.
Margaret Catchpole–Her Life and Her Letters is one woman’s eyewitness account of floods, hardships and the loneliness of the early settlers, recorded by this remarkable convict woman whose voice speaks for the many forgotten ones whose hard labour built the foundations of European Australia.
I invite you to read her story and make your decision about her place in Australian history.