Looking north: Sydney's Upper North Shore

Follow the development of this region from isolated bush and farmland to a prosperous residential area.

Artists: Turner and Anderson

Many artists and writers were attracted to the bush surrounds and the serenity of the Upper North Shore. These included Ethel Turner (Lindfield), Ethel Anderson (Turramurra), Grace Cossington-Smith (Turramurra), Lionel Lindsay (Wahroonga), Margaret Coen and Douglas Stewart (St. Ives), Sydney Ure Smith (Wahroonga) and photographer Harold Cazneaux (Roseville).

Author Ethel Turner (1870-1958) wrote Seven Little Australians at her home, Inglewood, in Lindfield (now Woodlands, Killara) in 1893. The State Library of New South Wales holds the original manuscript of this children’s classic.

Writer and artist Ethel Anderson (1883-1958) and members of the Turramurra Wall Painters group painted the murals in the Children’s Chapel of Sydney’s St. James Church in 1929.

Ethel Turner

Author Ethel Turner (1870-1958) wrote Seven Little Australians at Inglewood in Lindfield (now Woodlands, Killara) in 1893, after her family moved from the city suburb of Paddington to rural Lindfield in 1891. Ethel initially objected to the move, recording in her diary:

'We have decided to go to Lindfield. I named it the Sepulchre but Mother objected so I shall call it the Catacombs. It will be like being buried alive to live in a quiet little country place after the bustle and excitement of town life' (5 Sept 1891).

However, she soon 'liked the place awfully. It is a pretty square house with a long balcony and verandah, honeysuckle and white roses creeping up' (29 Sept 1891). The garden was full of roses and they had an orchard. The suburban bushland surrounds quickly became important in her stories. On her 21st birthday, Ethel wrote in her diary, 'Seven L. Aust. – sketched it out.' (24 January 1893)

Turner was very prolific during her time in Lindfield, writing three novels as well as newspaper articles and short stories between 1891 and 1894. The Library holds Ethel Turner’s original manuscript of Seven Little Australians, which has been in print continuously since it was published in 1894.

Ethel Turner, 1927 / photographic portrait by May Moore, Sydney

Seven Little Australians


Ethel Anderson

Author, poet and artist Ethel Campbell Louise Anderson, nee Mason (1883-1958) was born in England to Australian parents and brought up in Sydney. In 1904, she married Major A.T. Anderson in Bombay and the couple lived in India until 1914 with their daughter Bethia (born 1907). After 10 more years in England, the family settled in Sydney's North Shore in 1924.

Ethel Anderson's Turramurra home, Ball Green, became something of an open house for artists and writers including neighbour and fellow artist Grace Cossington-Smith. Although often remembered for her work as an artist, Anderson was also an accomplished essayist and poet. Working from her home in Turramurra, she contributed to various periodicals in England, America, India and Australia as well as publishing several volumes of verse, some of which was later set to music.

The Library has an extensive collection of material relating to Ethel Anderson's life and work, including photographs of Anderson with her family and at work with the Turramurra Wall Painters.

In 1929 Ethel Anderson and members of the Turramurra Wall Painters group painted murals on the walls of the Children’s Chapel in the crypt of St. James Church, Sydney. The Turramurra Wall Painters, founded by Anderson, included her daughter Bethia Anderson, Roland Wakelin and Roy de Maistre. The murals on the wall of the Children's Chapel depict scenes from the carol 'I saw three ships'. Ethel Anderson wrote that the group's aim was to 'give the tiny room the brilliance of a page from the Book of Kells'.

Ethel Anderson always had a passion for life, art and literature. As her hearing deteriorated in old age, she began using a large silver ear trumpet, often adorned with colourful pieces of fabric to match her dresses. She died on 4 August 1958 at her home in Turramurra.

[Ethel Anderson, ca. 1905 / portrait by Freeman Brothers]

Made possible through a partnership with Geoffrey & Rachel O'Conor