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Rachel Henning was born in England to a clergyman and his wife. Her mother's death in 1845 left Rachel responsible for her siblings, which included three sisters and a brother, Biddulph. In 1853, he emigrated to Australia with his sister Annie. Rachel and her sister Amy followed a year later. The siblings lived together on a farm at Appin in New South Wales, then on the Bulli Mountain. Rachel returned to England in 1856, but went back out to Australia five years later and settled there permanently. In 1866, she married Deighton Taylor, Biddulph Henning's overseer, ten years her junior. Rachel loved flowers, music and poetry, which she sometimes wrote. Her frank, vivid letters, mainly addressed to her sister Etta in England, today provide a detailed account of pioneer life in 19th century Australia. They were first published in 1951-1952, and were collected and published in book form in 1963.
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