Mother Vincent (Ellen) Whitty (1819-1982). Sisters of Mercy Brisbane Congregation Collection.

Published by the University of Queensland Press in 2011, The Correspondence of Mother Vincent Whitty, 1839-1892 brings together over 340 letters by, to, or about Mother Vincent Whitty, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy in Queensland. Correspondence is an impressive work of scholarship by two current Sisters of Mercy, Anne Hetherington and Pauline Smoothy. Their editorial oversight and annotations provide valuable context to the letters, and add coherence to the 53 year period represented by the book.

Mother Vincent’s story is a fascinating one, and her legacy in the fields of education and social work is still evident throughout Queensland today. Correspondence provides insight into all facets of her life, from the extraordinary to the mundane, and sheds light on everyday life for women in Colonial Queensland and Victorian Dublin.

Writing in their introduction to the book, Anne and Pauline explain: ‘In today’s world of spontaneous, instant and largely ephemeral communication, the correspondence of Mother Vincent reminds us that “social networking” is not a new phenomenon. Her personal letters, reliant on pen and ink, are of necessity more reflective and more measured—and more enduring. They provide refreshing insights into the life of a woman who was warm and affectionate, a woman of faith who was resilient in difficult circumstances, and at home with all classes of society.’

The Correspondence of Mother Vincent Whitty is available for purchase for $50 plus postage from Adderton: house & heart of mercy. Please contact us to purchase a copy or for further enquiries.

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