3 Sep 2013

As a young girl and very eager reader I sadly never discovered the delights of the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books. 
Perhaps because our library was very Anglo Australian in its content, lots of lovely scrummy British books and a smaller contingent of Australian books,
 perhaps it's the way the publishing industry worked at the time with the majority of books coming into Australia coming through British publishing houses
 or perhaps I never looked on the right shelf, though I can't believe that. 
My first encounter with the Ingalls clan therefore was through television and the books came much later when I read them to my own children.

Now what I am trying to find out is if the country children of the 1870s living 
in Australia wore the same kind of clothes. 
Did they wear the iconic bonnet we associate with the Prairies?
We had plenty of new settlers moving into country districts facing hardships but what did the children wear. It's difficult to find recorded images of the time and any that are available usually show very formal wear, Sunday best and not many look like country kids.

Frederick McCubbin though painted wonderful images that show so much of 
ordinary Australian life in the late 19th century.
 I love his work for the quality of the light, the messy rural and city scenes where nothing looks landscaped or ordered but everything looks like so many images I still see now in my travels.
  Unfortunately they don't  give me much help on the bonnet front but maybe Australian children were as devil may care then as they are now and threw their hats and bonnets under a bush as soon as they are out of sight of the kitchen window...

You can see more of McCubbin's work here

EDIT: just found the work of Jane Sutherland, a contemporary of McCubbin and part of the Heidelberg School and low and behold, a bonnet

One Response to “Bonnets”

  1. Hi Jenny: I find that living in Canada we had access to both British and American Literature, because we were a British Colony and we share a long border with the States. I never actually read the Little House books until I had kids (I'm afraid I liked mystery books better when I was a kid). But I loved the 70s Prairie styles. Looking forward to your Prairie month. Linda S. from Canada.


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