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Wiggenhall St Germans

Wiggenhall St Germans lies on the River Great Ouse - five miles south of King's Lynn.

The poet and novelist Ada Cambridge was born here on November 21, 1844. She was the daughter of a farmer called Henry Cambridge and spent her childhood in the village.

Ada Cambridge

St Germain's Church

In 1870 she married a missionary priest called George Cross and they emigrated to Melbourne in Australia. It took her a while to adapt to the heat and the isolation of this new country.

She wrote 21 novels in total - many about heroines who were trapped in unhappy marriages. The plots may have reflected of her sense of frustration with her own marriage. She stayed married to Cross for the whole of her life but lost her faith when she was older.

Her collection of poems Unspoken Thoughts was published in 1887 after having lived in Australia for 17 years. Amongst the poems there is a moving evocation of the watery landscape of the Wiggenhalls that she had left behind. The poem is entitled Nightfall in the Fens and in it she captures in great detail the wildlife of the area. The poem has 22 verses and here are the first two:
 

One hour ago the red-hot sun below the horizon sank.
The long midsummer day is done. Our boat is moored beneath the bank.
The glory of the crimson west dies slowly on the river's breast.

The water-violet shuts its eye; the water lily petals close;
So in the evening light we lie and dream in undisturbed repose.
How far all petty cares have flown! How calm the fretful world has grown.


She returned to England in 1913 but then, after the death of her husband, headed back to Australia.

She also wrote an autobiography entitled Thirty Years in Australia which was published in 1903.

Today, she is remembered as Australia's first significant woman poet. She died in 1926 at the age of 82.
 

Links:

Unspoken Thoughts - Poems by Ada Cambridge

 

 

 

 

 

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