Julia smashes windows

For nearly 30 years three generations of Sorells shocked respectable Tasmanians with their scandalous misbehaviour.

Tasmanian Tiger

Lieutenant-Governor William Sorell arrived in Tasmania in 1817 with his mistress, pretending she was his wife. He had already acquired seven illegitimate children before marrying their mother Harriet but he left all of them behind when he began an adulterous liaison with Mrs Louisa Kent.

Governor Sorell’s grandson, also William, known as Quacker

Louisa and William set up house in Hobart, living in “a state of open concubinage” according to his political enemy Anthony Kemp who promptly arranged for his recall to England. Before he left however, William Junior, one of his sons by Harriet, followed his father to Australia and took up with Kemp’s 17 year old daughter Julia.

Julia set fractals found here

Julia was described by one Hobart diarist  as “the most beautiful woman you ever saw but also the very devil incarnate”.  Julia bore William Junior a daughter before marrying him in 1925, then a second daughter a few years later. Not long afterwards she ran off to England with another officer and the family never saw her again.

“Nurse Julia” found here

The elder of these two girls was also named Julia. In August 1843 she shocked society by sleeping with the new governor of Tasmania as well as every officer in the garrison. Shortly after spending a wanton weekend with the 60 year old governor she became briefly engaged to his son.

Nevertheless she declined to marry until 1850 when she made a very surprising choice of husband, the deeply religious Thomas Arnold. Thomas had constant crises of faith and alternated between Catholicism and Anglican doctrines. Julia was frustrated with her husband’s indecision and once broke all the windows in a local Catholic church to teach him a lesson.

Tasmanian cemetery found here

Together they had 8 children, the four boys were brought up strictly in the faith while the four girls were free to choose. One daughter, Mary, grew up to be the most widely read English author of the 1890s. Another daughter, named Julia for her mother and grandmother, married scientist Leonard Huxley and bore him two sons, biologist Sir Julian Sorell Huxley and author Aldous Huxley.

Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley, celebrity writer and LSD proponent, taught French to George Orwell when he attended Eton. Orwell went on to write cult classic 1984, with a sexually promiscuous protagonist named Julia……


Published in: on June 2, 2010 at 8:18 am  Comments (35)  
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35 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Mary Shelley of Frankenstein fame??

    • No, she wrote under her married name of Mrs Humphrey Ward

  2. “the most beautiful woman you ever saw but also the very devil incarnate”.

    Oh, they’re are all like that though… I mean… some don’t… but… shit.

    • having some girl trouble are you Alex?

      • Trouble is there isn’t one.

  3. Tasmania – birthplace of future distopias!

    • I’ve never been – have you Mitzi? Have always imagined it to be a lot like New Zealand. Without the accent.

  4. Where did you get that wonderful 1984 book cover?

    • There’s a link beneath it – Mr Hartan’s Science Class – interesting blog, check it out

  5. This was brilliant Nursie, loved the connections, if i ever need research done for odd facts if i’m writing something i’m gonna try and hire you, you could probably guess that i’m a big fan of Aldous and George.

  6. Had a bit of trouble keeping track of all the Julia’s – and the sexual liaisons. Lordy, I live a staid and boring life.

    • … and a happy one I hope 🙂

  7. That’s one strange string of history. Nice work.

  8. Almost every piece you write would be a fantastic movie, and this one would be a blockbuster. Riveting story.

  9. Quoting the quote already picked out by Alex L. “the most beautiful woman you ever saw but also the very devil incarnate” …… a perfect combination I would have said.

    ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ is a marvellous book – Orwell is a fascinating character …. I saw a ‘bio’ about him the other day ……

  10. If it weren’t for all that reckless breeding, I’m thinking these folks would have been big fun at parties! Love this thread of history!

  11. well this woman got around. Lucky she didn’t catch anything.

  12. “…the very devil incarnate”. A Tasmanian devil, no less :mrgreen:

  13. i love the red shoes on nurse julia!

  14. I believe that every beautiful woman has the innate ability to transform into the devil incarnate. At least it seems that way because you care so much more deeply about what she says and does.

  15. ‘“the most beautiful woman you ever saw but also the very devil incarnate”’

    There’s one in every town!

  16. WOw that was a rollercoaster through the generations!

  17. So at what date do you bring up the concept of a state of open concubinage to a woman? Fourth? Fifth?

    Also from that book cover, Big Brother is Watching You, and he took everyone’s sleeves too so work on those arms.

    • The sleeves are over at Animal Farm. The upright pigs are wearing them.

    • I have a vest like that.

  18. Blimey they packed a lot in …..

    • That’s colonialists for you

  19. Great post Nursie. I love how Aldous Huxley popped up at the end!

    • I was saving him for you Syncy

  20. What well-connected offspring that little tart produced! What interesting stories you share, weaving in all sorts of characters. The Taz Tiger was sad to see… LOVED the red shoes on Nurse Julia.

  21. Wow, you just explained the demise of the tasmanian tiger, awesome

  22. “…..once broke all the windows in a local Catholic church to teach him a lesson…”

    Did it work? Cos if it did i’d like to break several churches just to teach those sexist old fools a lesson

    Having said that, i would love to be known as the devil incarnate 🙂

  23. A whole lot of Julias here… interesting fact about Orwell and the character named Julia from 1984.

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