Have you ever noticed when you read the bio of a high achiever, that it is crammed full of facts and all their achievements but says absolutely nothing about them as a person, their character, their beliefs and so little about what makes them tick?
This is an obvious challenge I face here at Tea With Ethel Turner. However, if I’d sought to write a concise biography, I would’ve chosen a different medium. I’d have reduced 40 novels, her numerous contributions to children’s pages throughout her life to a few hundred well-selected words. Indeed, I’m seeking to expand Ethel Turner, not constrict her.
So, instead of launching straight into an analysis of Seven Little Australians, or quoting Mark Twain or what some other famous soul has said about Ethel Turner, I wanted to share an extraordinary letter Ethel Turner wrote in her role as “Chief Sunbeamer” and editor in chief of the Sunbeams children’s pages in the Sun newspaper.
To provide a brief background, Ethel Turner ran numerous writing competitions in Sunbeams, and had put a call out for contributions about what they wanted to be when grew up. Or, simplified into the heading: “When I grow Up”.
On the 23rd May, 1922 Ethel Turner shared what she wanted to be when she grew up, and it captivated me. I am such a visionary, an idealist, someone who wants to change the world, and there she was flying the flag right alongside me:
“Dear Young People,— When I, personally, grow up, I should like to become an archangel, able to stride royally about the evening skies plucking at the laughing stars, and tossing them down to earth into the laps of all the children upon whom the sun during the day, had forgotten to smile. And I notice that three parts of you, in your “When I’m Grown Up” papers, have very Similar desires. You are evidently not satisfied with the state of things in the world that the present “Grown Ups” are content to allow. When you grow up you are going to make things brighter and better in all directions — are going to simply spill the stars about in the dark spaces.”
How beautiful was that?
Moreover, it had me asking more about Ethel Turner.
Who was she?
Of course, when you consider the date, you soon realize that Ethel Turner and most of these idealistic children, had gone through the horrors of WWI and the Spanish Flu Pandemic. They had seen and lost so much. Of course, they wanted a better world and to try to make a difference to the suffering of others.
In my next post, I’ll be sharing a poem which also touched the very depths of my heart. Ethel Turner really had an extraordinary soul.
 Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 – 1954), Sunday 28 May 1922, page 2