Aug 21, 2008

Welsh Australians - New South Welsh

Ethne Jeffrey’s book Welsh Australians may surprise readers by revealing the amount of influence that the Welsh have had on Australia. Since the beginning of white settlement two centuries ago, Welsh emigrants have played an integral role in the country’s social, political and artistic development.

Despite their impact, author Ethne Jeffreys states that, “Little has been published about the contribution of Welsh people to Australian society. Now we are given a glimpse of some of them, from Francis Wilkinson on Captain James Cook’s voyage of discovery, to Billy Hughes, the world’s first Welsh-speaking prime minister. Today, Welsh descendents such as Rolf Harris and Kylie Minogue are household names.”

This well-researched and entertaining book includes short biographical sketches of some of the most influential of these intrepid Welshmen and women and their descendents. For example, there is the story of David Jones’ department stores which are a favourite in Australia, but not so well-known is the fact that the founder of this billion-dollar retail empire was born to illiterate parents in a hamlet 12,000 miles away. Others, though they have not found fortune or fame, have contributed in an individual way to the development of the continent, such as Joseph Jenkins, the Welsh swagman, or Rachael Ann Webb. The author “hopes that these sketches will motivate readers to search out the stories of Welsh Australians for themselves.”

The book is a personal tribute by Ethne Jeffreys, who lived Down Under for nearly thirty years and visited every State. She was born and bred in Dunvant, Swansea, migrated to Australia in 1951 under the ‘£10 Pom scheme’ and later qualified as a teacher of English and commercial subjects. The author dedicates the book both to Wales and to Australia, her “finishing school.”

Welsh Australians is available for £5.95 in bookshops throughout Wales and on

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