Historical information

These letters were received by Henry James of Orbost. Henry James (1860-1932) was a well-known identity in the Orbost district. He was a stock agent and auctioneer who helped to establish the seed bean industry in Orbost. He was the second secretary of the Snowy River Shipping Co. as well as a shire councillor and prominent member of MUIOOF.

They concern a fund established to raise money to bring the three sons of Jennings Carmichael to Australia. A committee established by Henry Gyles Turner, a a notable Australian banker and historian, was formed to raise funds to bring the boys to Australia.

Grace Elizabeth Jennings Carmichael (1867-1904), poet and nurse, was born on 24 February 1867 at Ballarat, Victoria, daughter of Archibald Carmichael, a miner from Perthshire, Scotland, and his wife Margaret Jennings, née Clark, from Cornwall, England. . She was educated at Melbourne and while still a child went to live on a station at Orbost, and grew up close to the bush she came to love so much. In 1888 she went to Melbourne to be trained as a nurse at the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, and in 1891 published a small volume of prose sketches, Hospital Children. Having qualified she obtained a position on a station near Geelong, and subsequently married Francis Mullis. She contributed verse to the Australasian, and in 1895 Poems by Jennings Carmichael was published. She lived for a time in South Australia and then went to London, where she died in poor circumstances in 1904. Her husband, Henry Mullis, was last recorded in the workhouse in Woolrich, but then disappeared leaving the three children- Geoffrey 7 yrs, (Thomas) Clive 5 yrs & 4 year old (Archibald) Keith and one year old (Rupert) Wyatt, destitute & were sent to the Northampton workhouse, (Thomas ) Clive dying in 1906.

In 1910, a group of Carmichael's admirers, discovered the whereabouts of her children, where a public fund was established to bring the children to Australia, the Victorian Government giving them free passage, arriving in Victoria in October of 1910. The children were placed in private homes and took on their mother's single name of Carmichael.
In 1910 a small selection of her poems was published, in 1937 a plaque to her memory was unveiled at Orbost in the Mechanics Institute ( reg. 554), and a year later a replica was placed in the public library at Ballarat. Two of Jennings Carmichael's sons were present at the ceremony.


Jennings Carmichael, a leading Australian poet spent much of her childhood in Orbost.

Physical description

Several letter written to H. James concerning the Jennings Carmichael Children's Fund. Stapled to one letter is a typed article about the Jennings Carmichael Children's Fund written by Frank a. Russell. The other letter is a three page stapled handwritten letter from St Oswald's, Ormond College, seeking information about Jennings Carmichael.