K. Langloh Parker - Australian Legendary Tales: The Mayamah

K. Langloh Parker – Australian Legendary Tales: The Mayamah

Catherine Eliza Somerville Stow (May 1, 1856 – March 27, 1940), who wrote as K. Langloh Parker, was a South Australian born writer who lived in northern New South Wales in the late nineteenth century.

She is best known for recording the stories of the Ualarai around her. Her testimony is one of the best accounts of the beliefs and stories of an Aboriginal people in north-west New South Wales at that time. However, her accounts reflect European attitudes of the time.

Parker was born Catherine Eliza Somerville Field at Encounter Bay, in South Australia, daughter of Henry Field, pastoralist, and his wife Sophia, daughter of Rev. Ridgway Newland.Henry Field established Marra station near Wilcannia on the Darling River in New South Wales, and ‘Katie’ was raised there. The relocation brought the family both prosperity and sorrows. In an incident that took place in January 1862, her sisters Jane and Henrietta drowned while Katie was rescued by her Ualarai nurse, Miola. In recognition, Miola was taken in to be schooled together with the Field’s other children. The family moved back to Adelaide in 1872.

In 1875, on reaching her maturity at 18, she married her first husband, Langloh Parker, 16 years her senior. In 1879 they and moved to his property, Bangate Station, near Angledool, on Ualarai lands by the Narran River. Langloh Parker’s holdings consisted of 215,000 acres running some 100,000 sheep and cattle. He found time also to work as magistrate at Walgett. Over the following two decades she collected many of the Ualarai stories and legends which were to fill her books and make her famous. After drought struck the region, the station eventually failed and the Parkers moved to Sydney in 1901, where Langloh was diagnosed with cancer, dying two years later. Katie travelled to England and married a lawyer, Percival Randolph Stow (son of Randolph Isham Stow), in 1905. The couple eventually returned to Australia, taking up residence in the suburb of Glenelg in Adelaide until her death in 1940.

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