The settler colonialism of Irish Protestantism: Anne Jamison, ‘Irish Protestant colonialism and educational ideology in Australia: Hannah Boyd’s letters on education (1848)’, Australian Literary Studies, 36, 2, 2021 


Abstract: The transnational movement between Ireland and Australia of school periodicals, pedagogical ideas and educational theories are writ large in histories of colonial education in Australia; from the Irish National School Readers that circulated in the colonies, to the transference of the Irish National Board’s Model School system from Dublin to Melbourne. Less attention has been paid, however, to the specific brand of Irish Protestant colonial thinking that often colours and motivates this transnational movement, as well as the educational ideologies and literature that were shaped by it in Australia. This essay takes Irish-born Hannah Villiers Boyd’s educational treatise, Letters on Education (1848), as its core focus. Recognised by scholars as one of the earliest educational treatises in Australia, and an important text in the cultural history of women’s social reform and education, the text has been analysed for its formal and generic features as a nineteenth-century parenting manual. This essay adds another dimension to this line of thinking. By paying close attention to the text’s engagement with Irish writer and educationist, Maria Edgeworth, as well as other Irish writers and political figures (Carleton, O’Connell), this essay will explore how Boyd’s familial and socio-cultural Irish background modulates the text’s approach to education, as well as shapes its utopian projections of a future Australian nation. As such, this essay will demonstrate the Irish intersections that potentially shape in significant ways the text’s educational ideologies and, more specifically, illustrate how Boyd’s didactic perspectives on rural home education for young girls in Australia are both inflected and moulded by Irish Protestant colonial politics and culture.

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