Margaret Catchpole – a hero, a celebrity or just a woman?

Well I have finished my Margaret Catchpole memoir and totally enjoyed the efforts of Laurie Chater Forth.  Laurie and her team apparently conducted quite in-depth research to reveal a reasonable understanding of Margaret’s life. I learnt quite a deal not only about Margaret but about life for a female convict at that time, alone and with no rights as a woman or a life prisoner.

Being a writer of sorts, a nurse and a midwife and one whose life appears to be one of service, I identified with Margaret Catchpole in many respects. I doubt though that I have Margaret’s unresolved optimism and determination to continue to live a life of dedication and positive attitude, which I think she must have to achieve her popularity and good will of her community. Continue Reading

Is a Memoir all Fact?

When writing a memoir, the issue of fact or fiction must be addressed. It is an issue often discussed amongst memoirists and a fear born out of a deceiving one’s readers.

The issue came to mind recently when reading the novel written about Margaret Cathpole’s life as written by Reverend Richard Cobbold, the Rector of Worthham, Suffolk (

People in the Hawkesbury did remember Margaret according to the Hawkesbury Writers website when she lived local to them. Their memories were very different to the Reverend Cobbold’s account of Margaret’s life.

The mind can play tricks and even with the best of intentions can replay events not quite as they were. I wrote an account of a memoir of my childhood to do with the opening of the Parkes Radio Telescope.  I then went about and researched the facts of the day and surprisingly many facts were not as I remembered. Of course, I was a child, and interpreted events through my own understanding.Continue Reading

Margaret Catchpole – a convict, a writer and a nurse

Margaret Catchpole is not a name I knew. I am not sure what attracted her name to me but a flicker in my mind kept urging me to keep researching her.

What I found is a woman of intelligence, skill and many lives. Margaret commenced her life in England in the 18th Century, was deported as a ‘convict’ to Australia for crimes of smuggling and horse steeling. In later life, Margaret was a midwife and a writer in the Hawkesbury area.

A tribute to her nursing and midwifery skills is created by the Hawkesbury Hospital by dedicating  an area to her name and memory. Her contribution to mothers and infants in the area must have been significant in a time when care for women in childbirth was of little significance.Continue Reading