Talk given to the Henry Handel Richardson Society of Australia on 3 January 2012, Lakeview, Chiltern, Victoria.
Richardson’s parents emigrated from England to Australia after the first Gold Rush: her father, Dr Walter Richardson, came out to Australia in August 1852; her mother, Mary Bailey, in May 1853.
HHR herself was born in Melbourne in January 1870, and her first voyage across the world had been at the age of 3 years and 2 months, in April 1873, returning to Australia in September 1874.
As we all know, she spent just eleven months of her life in Chiltern, in two periods from July 27 1876 to 26 January 1877 (the next 3 months were spent in Queenscliff), then back in Chiltern from late April until her final departure in the last week of September 1877.
Eleven years later, having left PLC, she and her younger sister Lil were taken by their mother to England, arriving there on 11 September 1888. HHR then enrolled as a piano student at the Leipzig Conservatorium.
As a married woman, she travelled frequently in Europe, and less frequently to the West Indies, and South Africa. Most of her writing, however (four and a bit of her six novels), is concerned with her native country, to which she made only one return visit. This was from 2 August to 23 November 1912, and it is this that I want to speak about today. I shall end with her comments on Chiltern, dated 12 October.