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23 January 2010

Edna Roughley

Little is known about Edna Roughley. She is thought to have been married, and had at least one child, a daughter, for Ellice of Ainslie is dedicated to her daughter Julia Beales. In addition to Ellice of Ainslie, Roughley wrote a book of songs (poetry), a novel for adults and a play.

Ellice of Ainslie. Sydney: Australasian Publishing Co. Pty. Ltd., 1947. 253 pages. Illustrated, b/w frontis.

Ellice of Ainslie tells the story of motherless, hot-tempered and uncontrollable Ellice Kinnard, who is sent from her island home to attend Ainslie, her mother’s old school. There her friendship with the aloof and unpopular Madelon Herriot transforms Madelon into a popular schoolgirl. The central focus of Ellice of Ainslie is the friendship between Madelon and Ellice, emphasising loyalty and trust. Ellice is fascinated by Madelon and her beauty yet apparent coldness, and is determined to be her friend, despite overtures of friendship from three girls, Silver, Diana and Lolo, who are very popular. Two incidents occur that make Ellice question her affection for Madelon: Madelon cheats during an exam and attacks Lola. Madelon is later accused of trying to hurt Silver in an accident during the form play. Despite these events Ellice invites Madelon to spend the holidays with her and learns that Madelon’s mother died when she was a baby so she lives with an aunt as her father does not want her. After an eventful holiday during which Madelon goes missing in a canoe, Madelon returns to Ainslie, invigorated and tries to turn over a new leaf in her behaviour, but finds it hard not to slip back to her old ways of sullenness, coldness, and antagonism. Ellice and Madelon quarrel, before the story ends dramatically with Madelon and Ellice rescuing a Second Former from a crazed dog. For Madelon, school is a success, she is elected Form Prefect and Ellice’s aunt is going to adopt her. Madelon’s transformation is different to the reformation of madcaps in Mackness’ stories for example. It is unusual for a character with Madelon’s faults and failings to reform, typically they would remain the black sheep of the school, e. g. Diana in Janey of Beechlands. Roughley stresses the importance of Ellice’s love and loyalty in Madelon’s transformation.


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