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

1) She was the first woman in Australia to manage a large 

   agricultural estate (Annandale).

2) She was influential in the early respect gained by the Jewish community in Australia.

   (Esther's daughter, Rosanna, was the first free Jew in the land).

3) Her rise from convict to First Lady significantly contributed to

   Australia's evolving social order.

RRP: $29.99

IMPRINT: Allen & Unwin

CATEGORY: Historical biography

'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

‘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



For the past 12 years, Jessica has worked at the Australian Research Institute for Environment & Sustainability at Macquarie University, including five years as its Director.

She has also written for the Australian Association for Environmental EducationVogue Entertaining and Vogue Children. She has published four business guides, two lifestyle books, and she co-wrote a chapter for the United Nations publication Tomorrow Today.


Jessica is also co-founder and Director of the Senior Services Guide, an online directory of home-care services for elderly Australians. Her voluntary roles have included teaching English to adult migrants and providing administration services to WIRES.

Jessica has been researching Esther Abrahams for over a decade and is delighted to have uncovered the achievements of this remarkable woman who lived among many of Australia's historical figures during the early years of colonisation.


© 2019 Jessica North