25 July, 2005

Rose de Freycinet

A remarkable story in the grand tradition of nineteenth-century romantic seafaring adventures, A Woman of Courage records the extraordinary journey of 22-year-old Rose De Freycinet, through her spellbinding letters to friends and family from 1817 to 1820. Refusing to face a painful separation form her husband, a naval officer appointed by the French government to command a round-the-world scientific expedition, Rose dressed in an officer’s uniform and stowed away on board the Uranie. Shipwrecks, disease, pirates, storms, near-starvation and picnics of penguin meat, strange customs, encounters with island royalty and travels to remote locations – all the ingredients of a great adventure, and all endured for love. A memorable story of an adventurous and spirited woman, this book includes beautiful colour plates reproduced form the original limited edition French publication.

There was an illicit element to the Uranie voyage, for when Louis de Freycinet’s expedition left France the 22-year-old Madame Rose de Saulces de Freycinet (née Pinon) was aboard L’Uranie. This social element has added immeasurably to the importance of the voyage and, it is expected, to the significance of the archaeological remains.

In examining Freycinet’s actions in taking Rose with him, it needs also be noted that Matthew Flinders also had harboured a plan to take his wife Anne on his exploration voyage, at least to Port Jackson where she was to stay while he completed his work—a scheme that was abandoned when she was found on board during an official inspection of the ship. Further, a woman was on board one of Louis de Bougainville’s ships on his circumnavigation (Godard to McCarthy, February, 2002), and Marie Louise Victoire Giradin, disguised as a man, sailed as crew on board the Recherche, one of d’Entrecasteaux’s ships. Unfortunately she, like many others, died towards the end of the voyage, leaving the detail of her story untold (Duyker & Duyker, 2001: xxv).

images from shark bay

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