The Parrot Press

An Englishwoman in Colac:
a selection of her letters

Joan Frecheville Brown

151 pp. • hardback • ISBN 9780648092513 • $25 • 31 illustrations, some in colour. Index.

Published 1 October 2018.

Book cover - An Englishwoman in Colac, Joan Frecheville Brown

About the book

Joan Frecheville Brown (or Mrs Graham Brown as she was usually known) lived in Colac from 1947 to 1967. She and Graham built a house on a hill at Elliminyt looking out over Colac. They laid out an extensive garden and a block of native trees. The house and garden were large for their day, and enabled Joan and Graham to bring up a large family in comfort and to host charitable garden parties and other events.

When her four children - Michael, Jonathan, Julia and Louise - went away to boarding school, she wrote letters to them regularly. Her letters from the 1960s provide a detailed account of what went on at "Narroghid" - managing the house, the finances, the garden, the animals, visitors, women’s discussion groups, among other things.

There survive too some letters she wrote to her English friends about her family and life in Colac. And there were the love letters to Graham in England. He died in 1981.

These all provide a picture of Joan and a record of how varied life was for a woman in a country town. The book concludes with short memoirs by each of her four children.

The introduction and notes are by Jonathan Brown.

About the author

Joan Frecheville was born in the United States in 1921. She moved to England with her mother in 1937. After finishing her schooling she trained as a secretary and worked for a film producer. She married Dr Graham Brown in London in 1946. The following year they came to Colac. Graham practised as a doctor, and Joan kept house and garden and raised four children. In the early 1960s she contracted a mysterious wasting disease. She wrote regularly to her children at boarding school and occasionally to her friends in England about life in Colac and her house “Narroghid” in Elliminyt. She died in 1967, aged 45.

Get the book

The book is for sale at the Cow Lick Bookshop, 90 Murray Street, Colac, tel. 03 5232 1072.