Step Up, Mrs Dugdale
Publisher: Matilda Bay Books
When Henrietta Dugdale gathers her three young sons to her in the spring of 1867 and runs away from her bigamist husband, she puts into motion events that will lead to her recognition as a hero and trailblazing suffragette for women’s rights in Australia. This novel is based on a true story of the author’s ancestor, pieced together from family history, meticulous research and a desire to bring to light a life that was lived with conviction and fortitude. The more injustices she faced as a pioneering (and well-born) Englishwoman in Australia, the more determined Mrs Dugdale became to ‘step up’. She devoted her life to addressing those injustices, especially women’s rights, having lost her young sons to an indifferent and cruel husband who prevented her from having any contact with them in their early years. Henrietta left a searing account of her passion for women’s rights in a series of letters to newspapers which have been quoted and adapted in this story. This is an important work that documents the world of dependent women in Victoria in the late 1800s and sheds light on a crusader whose desire to make a difference transformed the lives of those she lived and worked with.