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Stella Courtland's transformation from an independent girl with a passion for the writings of Goethe, Schiller, and Kant to a married woman, hemmed in by social constraints, is the subject of Catherine Martin's novel of 1890. An exploration of the fa
te of an Australian `New Woman', the novel is also steeped in questions of Australian identity. Not only does Martin satirize and scrutinize colonial hierarchies, but she anticipates Australia's nationhood and the values of a new generation. A journa
list and essayist as well as a novelist, Catherine Martin was fascinated the question of what `Australianness' might be at a time when Australia was breaking away from its status as a British colony, and, through the story of Stella's moral and emoti
onal growth she paints a vivid picture of this turning point in Australian history.