Author's Australian Adventure

Welsh Books Council

Author's Australian Adventure - 15 June 2012

Eirian Jones, a Welsh author and editor has written an account of Margaret Jones’s amazing adventures in a biography entitled The Welsh Lady from Canaan,  and has just returned home after launching the book in Queensland, which was Margaret’s final resting place.

Reading a short note about Margaret Jones in a compendium of Welsh literature in 2008 had a significant impact on Eirian Jones’s life, especially so as Margaret, like Eirian, was an author and a keen traveller. Eirian has spent the past four years researching Margaret’s life, and what intrigued her the most was the fact that this Welsh lady spent time living in Paris, Jerusalem, Morocco and the United States before finally settling in Ipswich, Queensland, where she died in 1902.

"Her life and accomplishments would have been quite remarkable in this day and age,"  said Eirian Jones,  "and I often had to remind myself that this was the story of a lady who lived over a hundred and fifty years ago."

Margaret Jones was born in March 1842 in Rhosllannerchrugog, north Wales, and in her time she was known as  ‘The Welsh Lady from Canaan’  as she, in 1869, published a series of letters to her family from Paris, Jerusalem and Beirut in the book  Llythyrau Cymraes o Wlad Canaan  [The Letters of a Welsh Lady from Canaan]. She later published another travel book  Morocco, a’r hyn a welais yno  [Morocco, and what I saw there], which was published in 1883. Following a short spell at home, Margaret travelled around the United States before emigrating to Queensland in 1889 where she married James Josey, who was a very rich man; she died there aged 60 yeard old in 1902.

"I published a  Welsh-language version  of the biography last year, and that was launched in the village where Margaret was born," explained Eirian. "So I thought it fitting to launch the English-language book in the country where she is buried. Many, many people in Queensland have helped me piece together Margaret’s story, and I wanted to go out and thank them in person."

Having visited the Welsh lady’s grave in Ipswich, Eirian gave a talk on the life of Margaret Jones in the company of Ipswich Genealogical Society on Wednesday, 30 May at the United Welsh Church, Blackstone and there she met up with Margaret Jones’s great-niece, Bronwen Hall, who helped a great deal with the Australian part of the story. Eirian also gave a presentation to the Brisbane Welsh Society at the John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland on Saturday, 2 June, where she was able to hold the actual diary which Margaret had kept while living in Australia.

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