Bluestocking in Patagonia

Bluestocking in Patagonia

by Anne Whitehead
published 2003
Ligature untapped
genre Biography · Non-fiction

Dame Mary Gilmore’s portrait is on the ten dollar note. But before she was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire for contributions to literature, she was Mary Cameron, a schoolteacher and feminist, and one of a group of Australians who, at the end of the nineteenth century, attempted to create a socialist Utopia in Paraguay. Historian Anne Whitehead retraces her steps in a compelling investigation that blends biography, history and contemporary travelogue.

‘This splendid and fascinating book is brilliantly balanced as part memoir, part well-researched recreation of the experiences of the young Mary Gilmore as inamorata of Henry Lawson, as radical, wife, Paraguayan and Patagonian settler, and as abidingly Australian soul.’ — Thomas Keneally

‘It deserves a popular success. From beginning to end, in its readability, its engaging narrative and its shrewd evocation of personalities and places past and present, it meets the classical criterion of being both instructive and entertaining.’ — Jennifer Strauss, Australian Book Review

‘I shall take away Bluestocking in Patagonia by Anne Whitehead, the story of Mary Gilmore, poet, pioneer, utopian and sheep-shearer's wife, whose face is on the $10 note. I need to know how it got there.’ —Hilary Mantel, Arts Telegraph, UK (Summer reading)

‘“Yea! I have lived” was how she [Mary Gilmore] began one poem, and reading Anne Whitehead's spry account of her life, it is hard not to agree.’ —Nicola Walker, Times Literary Supplement

First published in 2003, Bluestocking in Patagonia was shortlisted for the Magarey National Biography Award and is the companion book to Anne Whitehead’s award-winning Paradise Mislaid, also part of the Untapped Collection.

Anne Whitehead is an award-winning author, historian, historian and screenwriter. Her most recent book is Betsy and the Emperor: The true story of Napoleon, a pretty girl, a Regency rake and an Australian colonial misadventure (2015). For more information visit