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LETTERS FROM THE BAY OF ISLANDS : THE STORY OF MARIANNE WILLIAMS

Edited by Caroline Fitzgerald


In 1822, Marianne Williams, wikth her missionary husband Henry and their three small children, left England forever. Their destination, which took them a year to reach, was the Bay of Islands, New Zealand and their new home was a remote one-house settlement – the Church Missionary Society mission station headquarters. This was nearly twenty years before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and Marianne’s only contact with the outside world was in letters home to her family in Nottingham. It is through these letters that, for the first time, her story can be told.

With only a handful of other Europeans in the country – many so far away that an expedition to see them as mounted only every two or three years – the Williams family was extremely isolated. At a time when most women of her age and class were enjoying the luxuries of industrial England, Marianne Williams was living among warring Maori tribes with unruly whaling crews across the bay. With her husband, often absent, she was nurse, midwife and surrogate missionary in the community and coped with running the mission station and schools, providing hospitality to visiting European explorers, including Charles Darwin – and tending to her growing family of eleven children. Yet, despite these immense demands, in her letters the bravery and uncomplaining determination of this extraordinary woman shine through.


Published by Penguin Books in 2004

Soft-cover (270 pages)

Like new condition


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