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Mary Ann & Captain Piper

The remarkable true story of the convicts' daughter who became the toast of colonial Sydney.

'An astonishing story of lust and love in early colonial Australia, shocking, entrancing and utterly enthralling.'

Sue Williams, author of Elizabeth and Elizabeth

'An intriguing narrative of family secrets, extravagance and social advancement.'

Robin Walsh, author of

In Her Own Words: The writings of Elizabeth Macquarie

'A grand tale in the best of romantic traditions.'

Cameron Woodhead and Steven Carroll, Sydney Morning Herald

Mary Ann & Captain Piper

Born on Norfolk Island to First Fleet convicts, Mary Ann was destined to become a farmer's wife. Instead, at the age of fourteen, she entranced the island's Commandant, the charming and flirtatious Captain Piper. 

Learning how to behave as a lady, and overcoming the stigma of her origins, Mary Ann became mistress of the colony's grandest home, when Sydney was just becoming a party town. With scores of servants, she and

Captain Piper entertained on a scale that had never been seen in the

colonies, hosting magnificent garden parties, dinners and balls for

hundreds of guests, including four governors of New South Wales.

But the Pipers were living beyond their means and trouble was around

the corner.

Mary Ann's transformation from barefoot child to Sydney's most

sophisticated socialite encompasses triumphs, tragedies and travels

around the globe.

Published by Allen & Unwin in 2022

North's writing is so utterly beautiful and compelling that reading her prose is akin to hearing the remarkable history for the first time.

Dr Catie Gilchrist, University of Sydney and Dictionary of Sydney

ESTHER Cover-front.jpg



The extraordinary true story of the First Fleet girl

who became First Lady of the colony.

'The fascinating account of a truly remarkable woman, cleverly interwoven with all the leading social and political events of the first three decades of early Sydney ... This is up there with Kate Grenville’s The Secret River which also had the same deeply profound, spine tingling effect upon me.'

Dr Catie Gilchrist, University of Sydney and Dictionary of Sydney


The little-known rags to riches love story of Esther Abrahams, who arrived in Australia as a convict on the First Fleet and became an important historical figure.

  • Esther was the first woman in Australia to manage a large 

       agricultural estate (Annandale).

  • She was influential in the early respect gained by the Jewish community

       in Australia (her daughter, Rosanna, was the first free Jew in the land).

  • Her rise from convict to First Lady contributed to the evolving social

       order in Australia.

Published by Allen & Unwin in 2019

SL Annandale House, Hoyte.jpg

'North skillfully weaves together one woman's fascinating saga with an equally fascinating history of the early colonial period of Australia. The resulting true story is sometimes as strange and thrilling as a fairytale.'

Lee Kofman, author of The Dangerous Bride


'The life of one of Australia’s most innovative, brave and determined early settlers is brought to life through the excellent penmanship of Jessica North. Authentic, riveting and inspiring, Esther is a sensational tribute to one of our nation’s leading female pioneers.'

Amanda Barrett, Mrs B's Book Reviews

'North has meticulously researched the myriad details that render this story so true to life and cast a new light on our origins.'

Irina Dunn, former director of the NSW Writers' Centre

‘A gritty, captivating, true story that keeps the pages turning long into the night! Jessica North's meticulous research and clear-eyed, sensitive perspective shines a light into the shadows of the past, revealing Sydney's beginnings in a fascinating diarised form like no other book has done before...’

Goodreads review

'A truly professional and exemplary retelling of the history.'

Blue Wolf reviews


‘The account is an historical masterpiece told objectively with no embellishment to fill in any gaps…This is a riveting, informative must read for all Australians.’

Goodreads review


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