Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Emily Matilda Manning (1845–1890)

by Sally O'Neill

This article was published:

Emily Matilda Manning (1845-1890), writer and journalist best known as 'Australie', was born on 13 May 1845 in Sydney, daughter of (Sir) William Manning and his first wife Emily Anne, née Wise. Educated at a private school in Sydney, she was encouraged to take an interest in literature by Professor Woolley. From 1860 Emily lived in the family home, Wallaroy, and her friends included the children of Sir Alfred Stephen's second marriage; balls, picnics, croquet matches, music and amateur theatricals at Government House were part of her busy and happy social life. In 1864 an exchange of light-hearted poems with D. S. Mitchell suggests a romance between him and Emily, but she soon went to England and contributed to such periodicals as Miss C. F. Yonge's Monthly Packet, which provided 'attractive reading of a high and refined type' for teenage girls. After return to Australia she wrote for the Town and Country Journal, Sydney Morning Herald and Sydney Mail, either anonymously or using the pen-name 'Australie'. She later joined the staff of the Illustrated Sydney News. On 22 December 1873 at St John's, Darlinghurst, she married the solicitor Henry Heron (Hiron); they had six sons and a daughter.

Emily published The Balance of Pain and Other Poems (London, 1877). It included eight hymns and over twenty-five poems, one of which 'The Emigrants' was set to music and produced as a dramatic cantata in October 1880 by the Petersham Musical Society. Reviewers acclaimed her poems as 'characterised by great purity of tone and loftiness of purpose', with many pieces breathing sympathy for the suffering and trials of humanity. Able and thoughtful, she wrote on art and taste as well as questions of the day, ranging from problems of sanitation, prison discipline and forestry to the domestic matters 'which might be expected to come within a woman's province'. She read widely, wrote a book review column for the Sydney Mail in 1880 and was noted for 'incisiveness and earnestness'. Interested in the higher education of women, she started a class for studying French language and literature. Survived by her husband (d.1912) and six children, she died of pneumonia on 25 August 1890 at Blandville; she was buried in the Anglican section of Waverley cemetery.

Her husband had been in financial difficulty from the early 1880s and at Emily's death discreet reference was made to the 'weary burden of trouble' which enforced her withdrawal from society. The family was dependent on the kindness of her father and stepmother whose loving care for Emily and her children was gratefully recognized in 1895 by Sir William's will.

Select Bibliography

  • R. M. Bedford, Think of Stephen (Syd, 1954)
  • G. D. Richardson, ‘David Scott Mitchell’, Descent, 1 (1961) pt 2
  • Illustrated Sydney News, 18 Aug 1877
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 26 Aug 1890
  • Bulletin, 30 Aug 1890
  • Sydney Mail, 30 Aug 1890
  • Town and Country Journal, 30 Aug 1890.

Citation details

Sally O'Neill, 'Manning, Emily Matilda (1845–1890)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 24 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Heron, Emily Matilda
  • Hiron, Emily Matilda
  • Australie

13 May, 1845
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


25 August, 1890 (aged 45)
Blandville, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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