The historical study of sibling relationships has experienced a golden age in the past decade. In Australian historiography, the significance of siblinghood for understanding both forms of family relationships and broader cultural patterns has been overlooked. Yet in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, social, cultural and political change in the Antipodes were mediated through sibling networks. The Lindsay family, consisting of a brood of ten children born between 1870 and 1894, is a rich case study through which to examine the extent and character of Australian siblinghood. Arguably no middle-class Australian family has been more far reaching and culturally influential than the Lindsays. Located in the gold-mining town of Creswick in western Victoria, many of the siblings went on to become influential artists, writers and teachers.
By examining the interactions between the Lindsay children from youth to old age, this paper not only provides insight into their internal lives but speaks to the intense character of sibling relations in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century Australia. It will focus on the bonds formed through play in childhood, the progression of these connections into adulthood, and how the relationships and networks created between the siblings acted as cultural incubators. By foregrounding the Lindsays and the importance of sibling relationships in turn of the century Australia, this paper offers a fresh vantage point from which to study the Australian past. From childhood, to adulthood and into old age, relationships between antipodean sisters and brothers were a crucial factor in shaping their internal and external worlds.
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