Ada Cambridge

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Ada Cambridge was an accomplished and prolific author. One can gain tremendous insight into the sensibilities and styles of the then-English colonial society by reading her works. The majority of her novels contain traditional romantic overtones and vividly depict Toorak mansions or pastoral homesteads as backdrops for her story settings. Typically, her protagonists were newly arrived English gentlemen or ladies on the shores of uncharted British colonies. The plot followed their trials and tribulations as they sought love and a life partner. Throughout her career, her novels explored the basis of marital choice, and this quest was frequently combined with several lesser-known topics of the time, such as exile, sexual passion, and organized religion’s substitutes. She published her first formal publication, ‘Hymns on the Litany,’ and continued to publish numerous masterpieces until her final article, ‘Nightfall.’ Throughout her life, she amassed a large body of fascinating and intriguing literal work, which included approximately 21 novels, three poetry collections, and two in-depth autobiographies. Apart from these, she contributed to several journals, including the Atlantic Monthly and the Australian Ladies’ Annual. Today, many of her writings are regarded as radical and unconventional, as they appear to challenge then-prevailing social norms.

Childhood & Adolescence

Ada Cambridge was the second child of Henry Cambridge, a gentleman farmer, and Thomasine, a doctor’s daughter. She received her early education from a succession of governesses, none of whom she cherished.

She was an avid reader and a devout Anglican as a child. Many of her works are inspired by her childhood experiences.

Career of Ada

Her writing career began in her late teens, with the formal publication of ‘Hymns on the Litany’ in 1865. This was followed by ‘Two Surplices,’ another collection of poems.

Although her first novel, ‘Up the Murray,’ was published in 1875, Cambridge did not gain recognition as a writer until 1890, when she published ‘A Marked Man.’

She gained widespread acclaim in England and Australia following the publication of ‘The Three Miss Kings’ in 1891.

Among her most significant works are ‘Thirty Years in Australia’ (1903) and ‘The Retrospect’ (1912).

With the publication of ‘Echoes’ and ‘The Hand in the Dark’ in 1869 and 1913, respectively, she established herself as a great poet.

Apart from being an acclaimed writer and poet, she founded the Women Writers’ Club and was made an honorary life member of Melbourne’s Lyceum Club.

Novels – Major Works

Her celebrated novel ‘Thirty Years in Australia’ (1903) was inspired by her experiences and time spent in the country. Another of Cambridge’s unique works, ‘The Retrospect’ (1912), was influenced by her 1908 visit to England.

Among her other notable works are ‘A Marked Man’ (1890), in which her hero, Richard Delavel, is rescued from horrifying marital choices; and ‘Three Miss Kings’ (1891), in which the plot revolves around three sisters seeking sincere husbands.

Notable Poetic Works

She was also lauded for her memorable poems, which were collected in a collection titled ‘The Hand in the Dark’ (1913), establishing her as a brilliant poet.

Personal History and Legacies

On April 25, 1870, she married Rev. George Frederick Cross and relocated to Australia, where she spent the majority of her life.

Her first and second children died in 1874 and 1875, respectively, from whooping cough and scarlet fever.

Cambridge was always involved in community work (parish activities) during her younger years as the wife of a clergyman.

In 1877, she was injured in a carriage accident, rendering her unable to contribute to parish services. She returned to

England in 1913 and remained there until the death of her husband on February 27, 1917.

Later that year, she returned to Australia, where she spent the remainder of her life writing novels and poems.

At the age of 81, she died of heart failure. She is survived by a daughter and a son, both named Dr K. Stuart Cross.

The Ada Cambridge Prize was established in 2005 in her honor, and it is given to local writers who write the best biographical stories. A street in Canberra’s suburb of Cook is named after her.

Estimated Net Worth

The net worth of Ada is aboutb$10million.


She attributed the majority of her intellectual development as a child to an unmarried aunt. In 1873, following her marriage, she resurrected her writing career in order to supplement the family’s dwindling finances.

In newspapers, her works were published under the initials A.C., and she began using her maiden name in later years of her career.

Several of her novels were never collected into single volumes but were serialized in various Australian newspapers.