Australian Scholarly Editions Centre Projects (ASEC)

A Woman's Friendship

A Woman's Friendship

by Ada Cambridge
Edited by Elizabeth Morrison

A Woman's Friendship, one of the author's many newspaper novels, was serialised in the Age in 1889. It is now, for the first time, available in book form (1988, reprinted 1994). Elizabeth Morrison's edition for the Colonial Texts Series is a careful rendering of the newspaper text, with an extended introduction and notes and, as an appendix, 'The Reform Club', a short story version written by Cambridge thirty-one years later.

In this gentle satire of clase and sexuality, Ada Cambridge opens a window on Melbourne society of the 1880s and illuminates some important issues of the day - reform of dress and diet, the 'marriage question', socialism, and women's suffrage.

The Grand Melbourne Exhibition of 1888 is a most agreeable place for Margaret Clive, a journalist's wife, and Patty Kinnaird, married to a squatter, to pursue their 'purely intellectual friendship' with handsome, widowed and wealthy Seaton Macdonald. The triangular relationship changes, however, when the women are house guests at Yarrock, MacDonalds magnificent country property - and unadmitted attractions begin to surface.

About the Author

Born in England in 1844, Cambridge had lived in Australia since 1870. Married to George Cross, an Anglican clergyman, she was known personally as Ada Cross. To the readers of her novels in newspapers she was usually 'A. C.'; later, for her books, she reverted to consistent use of her maiden name. It is thus, as Ada Cambridge, that posterity knows her.

Up the Murray was her first published novel - it was serialised in the Australasian, a Melbourne weekly, in 1875. A Woman's Friendship was her sixteenth. In all there were twenty-eight novels, together with short stories, essays, and volumes of poetry and of autobiography. Cambridge died in Melbourne in 1926, aged eighty-one.

About the Editor

Elizabeth Morrison is a research librarian with interests in Australian literary and newspaper history. She formerly lectured at Monash University.