Tracing the Girls: Reimagining the immigrant past

Carol Millner


On 19 January 1898 Kate Teehan disembarked from the S.S. Wolloomoolloo at Fremantle. She and Kitty Page, who arrived here in 1901, are but two out of the approximately 1,700 single women who came to West Australia from Great Britain between 1849 and the early 1900s.

This paper describes a reimagining of their stories; a practice-led research journey towards a piece of short fiction that unsettles the dominant narrative of single female immigration—that is, good but poverty-stricken lass boards a ship for Australia where she works briefly before marrying well. While this narrative accurately describes the trajectory of Kitty Page, it fails to encompass the experience of Kate Teehan, an immigrant woman, multiply marginalised by gender, class, illiteracy and poor mental health.


single female immigration to Western Australia 1890-1905; practice-led research; short fiction

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