Mid North Coast Pioneers - Newcastle to Lismore and beyond

McFadyen - Ella May

Ella May “Cinderella” McFADYENAge: 88 years18871976

Name
Ella May “Cinderella” McFADYEN
Given names
Ella May
Nickname
Cinderella
Surname
McFADYEN
Birth November 26, 1887 24 25
Address: At her parents home "Burrundulla".
Citation details: MCFADYEN ELLA M 6912/1887 DONALD MARY PETERSHAM
Quality of data: primary evidence
Publication: Sydney; 1871 - 1912
Citation details: Saturday 10 December 1887, page 1263
McFadyen - Daughter to Donald
McFadyen - Daughter to Donald

Note: Downloaded from Trove.

Birth of a sisterWinifred Hope McFADYEN
about 1890 (Age 2 years)
Citation details: MCFADYEN WINIFRED H 21420/1890 DONALD MARY MARRICKVILLE
Birth of a brotherDonald Walter Lindsay McFADYEN
about 1894 (Age 6 years)
Citation details: MCFADYEN DONALD W L 8954/1894 DONALD MARY BURWOOD
Death of a maternal grandmotherJane DEAN
March 6, 1894 (Age 6 years)
Citation details: AITCHISON JANE 8748/1894 WILLIAM DOROTHY MUDGEE
Quality of data: primary evidence
Birth of a sisterMinnie McFADYEN
about 1896 (Age 8 years)
Citation details: MCFADYEN MINNIE 2256/1896 DONALD MARY BURWOOD
Death of a sisterMinnie McFADYEN
about 1896 (Age 8 years)
Citation details: MCFADYEN MINNIE 1334/1896 DONALD MARY BURWOOD
Birth of a brotherClifford Leigh McFADYEN
about 1902 (Age 14 years)
Citation details: MCFADYEN CLIFFORD L 1923/1902 DONALD MARY BURWOOD
Birth of a sisterEunice Graham McFADYEN
about 1905 (Age 17 years)
Citation details: MCFADYEN EUNICE G 3434/1905 DONALD MARY GOSFORD
Death of a paternal grandfatherJohn McFADYEN
August 31, 1912 (Age 24 years)
Address: At his residence "Phoenix Park".
Citation details: 11446/1912 MCFADYEN JOHN RODERICK SARAH MORPETH
Quality of data: primary evidence
Publication: Maitland Daily Mercury (NSW : 1894 - 1939), Monday 2 September 1912, page 4
Burial of a paternal grandfatherJohn McFADYEN
September 1, 1912 (Age 24 years)
Address: Row 23
Cemetery: East Maitland General
Religion: Presbyterian
Publication: Maitland Daily Mercury (NSW : 1894 - 1939), Monday 2 September 1912, page 4
McFadyen - John
McFadyen - John

Note: Image kindly made available by the volunteers at Australian Cemeteries Index.


McFadyen Family - East Maitland
McFadyen Family - East Maitland

Note: Image kindly made available by the volunteers at Australian Cemeteries Index.

Marriage of a siblingCampbell CAMERONWinifred Hope McFADYENView this family
about 1914 (Age 26 years)
Citation details: Australia, Marriage Index, 1788-1950
Text:

Name: Wfred Hope Mcfadyen Spouse Name: Campbell Cameron Marriage Place: Victoria Registration Place: Victoria Registration Year: 1914 Registration Number: 9328

Death of a paternal grandmotherMargery McPHERSON
May 4, 1918 (Age 30 years)
Address: At her residence.
Citation details: MCFADYEN MARGERY 7125/1918 ALEXANDER MARY MORPETH
Quality of data: primary evidence
Publication: Legacy Family History file.
Publication: Newspaper; NSW; 1894 - 1939
Citation details: Tuesday 7 May 1918, page 6
McFadyen - Margery - Death Notice
McFadyen - Margery - Death Notice

Note: Downloaded from Trove.

Burial of a paternal grandmotherMargery McPHERSON
May 5, 1918 (Age 30 years)
Address: Row 23
Cemetery: East Maitland General
Religion: Presbyterian
Publication: Maitland Daily Mercury (NSW : 1894 - 1939), Tuesday 7 May 1918, page 4
McFadyen - Margery
McFadyen - Margery

Note: Image kindly made available by the volunteers at Australian Cemeteries Index.


McFadyen Family - East Maitland
McFadyen Family - East Maitland

Note: Image kindly made available by the volunteers at Australian Cemeteries Index.

Marriage of a siblingClarence Johnston CAMERONEunice Graham McFADYENView this family
Type: Religious marriage
February 26, 1929 (Age 41 years)
Address: St. Martins Church
Citation details: 2550/1929 CAMERON CLARENCE J MCFADYEN EUNICE G CHATSWOOD
Quality of data: primary evidence
Publication: Newspaper; NSW; 1842 - 1954
Citation details: Wednesday 27 February 1929, page 11
Publication: NSW; 1860 - 1871
Citation details: 13 March 1929
Marriage of a siblingDonald Walter Lindsay McFADYENEdith May MADDISONView this family
about 1940 (Age 52 years)
Citation details: 1940 B40844 Donald Walter Lindsay McFadyen Edith May Maddison
Death of a fatherDonald McFADYEN
August 16, 1950 (Age 62 years)
Citation details: MCFADYEN DONALD 18316/1950 JOHN MARGERY CHATSWOOD
Quality of data: primary evidence
Death of a sisterEunice Graham McFADYEN
November 2, 1952 (Age 64 years)
Citation details: 1952 B40768 Eunice Graham Cameron Donald McFadyen Mary Wilson
Quality of data: primary evidence
Citation details: CAMERON Eunice Graham Death notice 02NOV1952 Death late of Beechmont Sydney Morning Herald 05NOV1952
Death of a motherMary WILSON
November 19, 1952 (Age 64 years)
Citation details: MCFADYEN MARY 30197/1952 THOMAS JANE CHATSWOOD
Quality of data: primary evidence
Death of a sisterFlorence Grace McFADYEN
May 11, 1969 (Age 81 years)
Citation details: MCFADYEN FLORENCE GRACE 10786/1959 DONALD MARY CHATSWOOD
Quality of data: primary evidence
Death of a sisterWinifred Hope McFADYEN
about 1970 (Age 82 years)
Citation details: Australia, Death Index, 1787-1985
Text:

Name: Winifred Hope Cameron Birth Year: abt 1892 Age: 78 Death Place: Hamilton, Victoria Father's name: Donal Mcfadyen Mother's name: Mary Wilson Registration Year: 1970 Registration Place: Victoria Registration Number: 16737

Occupation
Author

Employer: Angus and Robertson
Employer: Sydney Mail Newspaper
Note: NSW State Library describes Ella as:
Death August 22, 1976 (Age 88 years)
Citation details: MCFADYEN ELLA MAY 20981/1976 DONALD MARY
Quality of data: primary evidence
Citation details: McFADYEN Ella May Death notice 22AUG1976 Death at Lane Cove, late of Lindfield Sydney Morning Herald 24AUG1976
Obituary October 15, 1976 (54 days after death)
Publication: http://oa.anu.edu.au
Text:

McFadyen, Ella (1887–1976) by Leslie Walford

As a child growing up on the outskirts of Sydney, Ella McFadyen wanted to read about Australia rather than childrens stories with an English setting.

So at the age of 15, she began writing her own — in nature pieces for weekly papers.

Miss McFadyen wrote four children's books, including the classic Pegmen Tales and over 37 years was a regular contributor of poems and articles to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Miss McFadyen's Big Book of Pegmen Tales was reprinted and published last year by Angus and Robertson, for whom she worked up till about four years ago as a manuscript reader.

She died recently aged 88.

The tales began originally as a daily serial for a Queensland newspaper and after running for three years were adapted for radio and then published into two books.

The Pegmen were a family of pegs made by children (cousin of the McFadyens) on the Macquarie River and launched in a flood for a trip around the world.

Miss McFadyen also wrote for a country newspaper, The Farmer and Settler.

For 20 years she edited the children's or Cinderella page for the Sydney Mail.

It was full of nature pieces, photographs and sketches of Australian animals and wildflowers.

Stories from the United States (about "Disney types with black nobs on their noses," as Miss McFadyen called them) were firmly rejected.

Associated with the page was a Boomerang Walking Club for which Miss McFadyen organised weekend adventure expeditions, teaching nature and bushcraft.

Members had to show they could walk 20 miles a day before they could go on treks and like boomerangs, had to return home under their own power.

Ella McFadyen developed her great love for the bush as a child.

She is survived by two brothers, Lindsay in Queensland and Clifford in Lindfield.

FactElla Ruth WILSON
between 1982 and 1986 (5 years after death)

Obituary about 2019 (42 years after death)

Date of entry in original source: March 8, 2019
Text:

McFadyen, Ella (1887–1976) by Emily Gallagher

Ella May McFadyen was a hardy woman, with a kind smile, pince-nez glasses and the musical voice of a skilled storyteller. Only fifteen when she began her career as a writer, the young Sydneysider recognised her vocation early. “There was something that I had to do,” she recalled in 1972. “I had to write.” Passionate and independent, she pursued an extraordinary career as a writer, editor and reviewer, driven by a lifelong love of nature and a delight in the magic of childhood.

Born in Petersham, Sydney, in 1887, McFadyen grew up on a small farm at Five Dock, in Sydney’s west, where the scent of buttercups and the hooting of mopokes instilled in her an early interest in the natural world. She did not attend the local school, instead finding companionship in her dolls and the books her father scattered thoughtfully around the family home. In a sign of what was to come, she often spent her time reading, sketching birds at the local museum, looking through old diaries and notebooks, and pretending to publish newspapers. After the family moved to Brisbane Water on the NSW Central Coast when she was fifteen, McFadyen became “confirmed in her habit of writing rhymes.” Not long afterwards, her photographs, poems, nature writings and short stories began appearing in print.

It was some years later, at the end of the first world war, that the opportunity of a lifetime reached the young writer by mail. W.R. Charlton, editor of the Sydney Mail, invited McFadyen to edit the paper’s new children’s page. It was her dream job, and for the next eighteen years she skilfully wove natural history, botany and poetry into her weekly two-page feature, crafting an extraordinary legacy as the fairy editor “Cinderella.”

By writing to many of her correspondents personally, as well as publishing their letters and contributions in her pages, McFadyen won the favour of her young readers and their parents. Thousands of children in Australia and abroad dipped their nibs in ink to write to her, sending letters, postcards, poems, stories, photographs, flowers and drawings. “One of the children called you ‘Queen of the Fairies,’” wrote one nine-year-old in 1922, “and now I always think of you as a fairy, as we are all so fond of reading and talking about you, and yet never see you. Are you really a fairy?” There was something enchanting about McFadyen. As another boy explained that same year, there was a “magic about the Page” that was enticing.

McFadyen had published photographs and verse before the first world war, but it was only after she started editing the children’s page that she really discovered herself as a writer. In the 1940s she published a number of popular children’s books, including Pegmen Tales (1946) and Pegmen Go Walkabout (1947) — a series of stories about a family of clothes pegs who sail down the floodwaters of the Macquarie River with a naughty monkey — and Little Dragons of the Never Never (1948), featuring the adventures of two little horned dragons from the centre of Australia.

Like many of her contemporaries, McFadyen created characters that were magical and fantastic, but they lived in distinctively Australian landscapes, under the kurrajong trees and in the swamps of the Never Never. Such settings reflected not only McFadyen’s involvement in the literary community of her day but also her lifelong passion for nature writing and bushcraft. As the editor of the Australian Women’s Digest wrote in 1949, McFadyen was the “high priestess” of camping, “a veritable walking encyclopedia on insects, birds and animals, with a slight bias towards eels and lizards.” Such was her knowledge of Australian lizards that Taronga Zoo and the Australian Museum sent several to her for care.

McFadyen’s love of Sydney and native wildlife was accompanied by a deep anxiety about urbanisation and environmental destruction. Her poetry, much of it published in newspapers and magazines, reflected a nostalgia for a landscape untouched by modernity, and she supported — and agitated for — bird and forest leagues, bushwalking clubs, sanctuaries and other environmental initiatives. Especially through her nature writings, photography and the Boomerang Walking Club — a bushwalking group for those senior members of the children’s page capable of walking no fewer than twenty miles a day — she encouraged children to become conservationists, teaching them about Aboriginal lore, bushcraft, and botanical and birdlife studies.

McFadyen continued writing for children in her later years. She made regular contributions to the School Magazine, Junior Red Cross Record, nature magazines such as Wild Life and Walkabout, and the Fairfax press. She gave talks on radio, at schools and to the Zoological Society, and contributed play scripts to the ABC’s Youth Education Department. She wrote Kookaburra Comedies (1950) and The Wishing Star (1956) and was a foundation member of the Society of Women Writers NSW. First recruited to the Junior Red Cross by Eleanor MacKinnon in 1914, she remained an active member all her life, later teaching “bushcraft, natural sketching and first aid” at their annual camps.

Until 1973, McFadyen also used her growing confidence as a naturalist and children’s writer in her critical manuscript reviews for the publisher Angus and Robertson. To the dismay of many aspiring Australian authors, she took a particularly unforgiving view of stories with characters or narratives that she believed children would find crude or unconvincing. “Few children really care for baby talk, or ideas too carefully broken down for their consumption,” McFadyen noted in 1932. “Children’s stories, like their clothes, are best made a little on the big side — they’ll grow into them.” She stood by this assessment all her life. In her opinion, young readers were as clever and discriminating as any other.

In 1976, four years after she was interviewed by Hazel de Berg for the National Library of Australia, McFadyen died in Lane Cove in Sydney. Little is known of her later years. She never married and, with few living family members to sponsor her memory, her writings were overshadowed by the immense literary output of children’s authors and illustrators such as May Gibbs, Pixie O’Harris, Mary Grant Bruce, Ida Rentoul Outhwaite and Dorothy Wall. (Unknown to Wall at the time, it was McFadyen who reviewed and revised her manuscript of Blinky Bill for publication.)

Still, hope remains. Parts of McFadyen’s life have been preserved in libraries and archives in Sydney and Canberra. Perhaps some or all of her letters survive in family letter albums and scrapbooks.

Ella McFadyen’s influence was felt more strongly by children than adults — a fact that overshadows the work and achievements of “missing” women all over the world. She was a trailblazer for Australia’s youngest writers, a beloved personality on Sydney’s twentieth-century literary scene, and a lifelong naturalist, able to translate her lofty ideals and love of nature into the language and lore of children. As she wrote in her poem “Adventure,” published in the Sydney Mail in March 1928:

What shall I find at the world’s end When I lay safely by, […] I spoke with my heart; Sooth and fair, Shall it be well with me?

Further Reading 2019 (42 years after death)

Note: A collection of diaries, scrapbooks, letters, photographs and drawings mostly relating to Ella's pub…
Family with parents - View this family
father
mother
Marriage: June 23, 1884Sydney, , New South Wales, Australia
18 months
elder sister
Florence Grace McFADYEN
Birth: about 1885 21 22Paddington, , New South Wales, Australia
Death: May 11, 1969Chatswood, , New South Wales, Australia
3 years
herself
McFadyen - Ella MayElla May “Cinderella” McFADYEN
Birth: November 26, 1887 24 25Stanmore, , New South Wales, Australia
Death: August 22, 1976Lane Cove, , New South Wales, Australia
3 years
younger sister
5 years
younger brother
3 years
younger sister
Minnie McFADYEN
Birth: about 1896 32 33Burwood, , New South Wales, Australia
Death: about 1896Burwood, , New South Wales, Australia
7 years
younger brother
Clifford Leigh McFADYEN
Birth: about 1902 38 39Burwood, , New South Wales, Australia
Death: February 6, 1984Sydney, , New South Wales, Australia
4 years
younger sister
Eunice Graham McFADYEN
Birth: about 1905 41 42Gosford, , New South Wales, Australia
Death: November 2, 1952Brisbane, , Queensland, Australia

BirthM - Births Registered in New South Wales
Citation details: MCFADYEN ELLA M 6912/1887 DONALD MARY PETERSHAM
Quality of data: primary evidence
BirthNewspaper - The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser
Publication: Sydney; 1871 - 1912
Citation details: Saturday 10 December 1887, page 1263
McFadyen - Daughter to Donald
McFadyen - Daughter to Donald

Note: Downloaded from Trove.

OccupationWeb Site - People Australia
DeathM - Deaths Registered in New South Wales
Citation details: MCFADYEN ELLA MAY 20981/1976 DONALD MARY
Quality of data: primary evidence
DeathWeb Site - The Ryerson Index
Citation details: McFADYEN Ella May Death notice 22AUG1976 Death at Lane Cove, late of Lindfield Sydney Morning Herald 24AUG1976
ObituaryWeb Site - Obituaries Australia
Publication: http://oa.anu.edu.au
Text:

McFadyen, Ella (1887–1976) by Leslie Walford

As a child growing up on the outskirts of Sydney, Ella McFadyen wanted to read about Australia rather than childrens stories with an English setting.

So at the age of 15, she began writing her own — in nature pieces for weekly papers.

Miss McFadyen wrote four children's books, including the classic Pegmen Tales and over 37 years was a regular contributor of poems and articles to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Miss McFadyen's Big Book of Pegmen Tales was reprinted and published last year by Angus and Robertson, for whom she worked up till about four years ago as a manuscript reader.

She died recently aged 88.

The tales began originally as a daily serial for a Queensland newspaper and after running for three years were adapted for radio and then published into two books.

The Pegmen were a family of pegs made by children (cousin of the McFadyens) on the Macquarie River and launched in a flood for a trip around the world.

Miss McFadyen also wrote for a country newspaper, The Farmer and Settler.

For 20 years she edited the children's or Cinderella page for the Sydney Mail.

It was full of nature pieces, photographs and sketches of Australian animals and wildflowers.

Stories from the United States (about "Disney types with black nobs on their noses," as Miss McFadyen called them) were firmly rejected.

Associated with the page was a Boomerang Walking Club for which Miss McFadyen organised weekend adventure expeditions, teaching nature and bushcraft.

Members had to show they could walk 20 miles a day before they could go on treks and like boomerangs, had to return home under their own power.

Ella McFadyen developed her great love for the bush as a child.

She is survived by two brothers, Lindsay in Queensland and Clifford in Lindfield.

ObituaryWeb Site - People Australia
Date of entry in original source: March 8, 2019
Text:

McFadyen, Ella (1887–1976) by Emily Gallagher

Ella May McFadyen was a hardy woman, with a kind smile, pince-nez glasses and the musical voice of a skilled storyteller. Only fifteen when she began her career as a writer, the young Sydneysider recognised her vocation early. “There was something that I had to do,” she recalled in 1972. “I had to write.” Passionate and independent, she pursued an extraordinary career as a writer, editor and reviewer, driven by a lifelong love of nature and a delight in the magic of childhood.

Born in Petersham, Sydney, in 1887, McFadyen grew up on a small farm at Five Dock, in Sydney’s west, where the scent of buttercups and the hooting of mopokes instilled in her an early interest in the natural world. She did not attend the local school, instead finding companionship in her dolls and the books her father scattered thoughtfully around the family home. In a sign of what was to come, she often spent her time reading, sketching birds at the local museum, looking through old diaries and notebooks, and pretending to publish newspapers. After the family moved to Brisbane Water on the NSW Central Coast when she was fifteen, McFadyen became “confirmed in her habit of writing rhymes.” Not long afterwards, her photographs, poems, nature writings and short stories began appearing in print.

It was some years later, at the end of the first world war, that the opportunity of a lifetime reached the young writer by mail. W.R. Charlton, editor of the Sydney Mail, invited McFadyen to edit the paper’s new children’s page. It was her dream job, and for the next eighteen years she skilfully wove natural history, botany and poetry into her weekly two-page feature, crafting an extraordinary legacy as the fairy editor “Cinderella.”

By writing to many of her correspondents personally, as well as publishing their letters and contributions in her pages, McFadyen won the favour of her young readers and their parents. Thousands of children in Australia and abroad dipped their nibs in ink to write to her, sending letters, postcards, poems, stories, photographs, flowers and drawings. “One of the children called you ‘Queen of the Fairies,’” wrote one nine-year-old in 1922, “and now I always think of you as a fairy, as we are all so fond of reading and talking about you, and yet never see you. Are you really a fairy?” There was something enchanting about McFadyen. As another boy explained that same year, there was a “magic about the Page” that was enticing.

McFadyen had published photographs and verse before the first world war, but it was only after she started editing the children’s page that she really discovered herself as a writer. In the 1940s she published a number of popular children’s books, including Pegmen Tales (1946) and Pegmen Go Walkabout (1947) — a series of stories about a family of clothes pegs who sail down the floodwaters of the Macquarie River with a naughty monkey — and Little Dragons of the Never Never (1948), featuring the adventures of two little horned dragons from the centre of Australia.

Like many of her contemporaries, McFadyen created characters that were magical and fantastic, but they lived in distinctively Australian landscapes, under the kurrajong trees and in the swamps of the Never Never. Such settings reflected not only McFadyen’s involvement in the literary community of her day but also her lifelong passion for nature writing and bushcraft. As the editor of the Australian Women’s Digest wrote in 1949, McFadyen was the “high priestess” of camping, “a veritable walking encyclopedia on insects, birds and animals, with a slight bias towards eels and lizards.” Such was her knowledge of Australian lizards that Taronga Zoo and the Australian Museum sent several to her for care.

McFadyen’s love of Sydney and native wildlife was accompanied by a deep anxiety about urbanisation and environmental destruction. Her poetry, much of it published in newspapers and magazines, reflected a nostalgia for a landscape untouched by modernity, and she supported — and agitated for — bird and forest leagues, bushwalking clubs, sanctuaries and other environmental initiatives. Especially through her nature writings, photography and the Boomerang Walking Club — a bushwalking group for those senior members of the children’s page capable of walking no fewer than twenty miles a day — she encouraged children to become conservationists, teaching them about Aboriginal lore, bushcraft, and botanical and birdlife studies.

McFadyen continued writing for children in her later years. She made regular contributions to the School Magazine, Junior Red Cross Record, nature magazines such as Wild Life and Walkabout, and the Fairfax press. She gave talks on radio, at schools and to the Zoological Society, and contributed play scripts to the ABC’s Youth Education Department. She wrote Kookaburra Comedies (1950) and The Wishing Star (1956) and was a foundation member of the Society of Women Writers NSW. First recruited to the Junior Red Cross by Eleanor MacKinnon in 1914, she remained an active member all her life, later teaching “bushcraft, natural sketching and first aid” at their annual camps.

Until 1973, McFadyen also used her growing confidence as a naturalist and children’s writer in her critical manuscript reviews for the publisher Angus and Robertson. To the dismay of many aspiring Australian authors, she took a particularly unforgiving view of stories with characters or narratives that she believed children would find crude or unconvincing. “Few children really care for baby talk, or ideas too carefully broken down for their consumption,” McFadyen noted in 1932. “Children’s stories, like their clothes, are best made a little on the big side — they’ll grow into them.” She stood by this assessment all her life. In her opinion, young readers were as clever and discriminating as any other.

In 1976, four years after she was interviewed by Hazel de Berg for the National Library of Australia, McFadyen died in Lane Cove in Sydney. Little is known of her later years. She never married and, with few living family members to sponsor her memory, her writings were overshadowed by the immense literary output of children’s authors and illustrators such as May Gibbs, Pixie O’Harris, Mary Grant Bruce, Ida Rentoul Outhwaite and Dorothy Wall. (Unknown to Wall at the time, it was McFadyen who reviewed and revised her manuscript of Blinky Bill for publication.)

Still, hope remains. Parts of McFadyen’s life have been preserved in libraries and archives in Sydney and Canberra. Perhaps some or all of her letters survive in family letter albums and scrapbooks.

Ella McFadyen’s influence was felt more strongly by children than adults — a fact that overshadows the work and achievements of “missing” women all over the world. She was a trailblazer for Australia’s youngest writers, a beloved personality on Sydney’s twentieth-century literary scene, and a lifelong naturalist, able to translate her lofty ideals and love of nature into the language and lore of children. As she wrote in her poem “Adventure,” published in the Sydney Mail in March 1928:

What shall I find at the world’s end When I lay safely by, […] I spoke with my heart; Sooth and fair, Shall it be well with me?