Finding Voice: Emily Coungeau and 'Australia's National Hymn of Progress'
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In late nineteenth and early twentieth century Brisbane, writing as a profession became increasingly open to women. This phenomenon developed partly in response to a rapidly expanding urban female audience, but in turn it helped to form the tastes, reading habits and social attitudes of new generations of female readers. The prolific and popular poet, Emily Coungeau exemplifies a new, self-consciously cosmopolitan type of woman writer who emerged in Brisbane in the early twentieth century. The English born Coungeau's life story is of interest on several different levels. Her remaking of herself in Queensland from lady's companion and parlour maid into successful businesswoman, poet, and patron of the arts demonstrates the transformative possibilities for women of migration to the colonies. Her involvement in commerce and culture over many decades also sheds light on Brisbane life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Finally, Coungeau is of interest because her articulation of an urban, cosmopolitan, female aesthetic in her writing relies heavily on notions of race and culture that are discredited today.
Copyright 2006 University of Queensland Press. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.