Significant Tasmanian Women icon

(1870 — 1956)
Ornithologist, Author and Teacher

Jane Fletcher had a love of nature and published a number of books on the subject. She had a particular interest in birds. She was the first woman to deliver a lecture to the Royal Society of Tasmania in 1934.

Jane’s early life was spent on a sugar plantation at Mackay. Her parents, Sarah Cooper, a keen botanist, and Price Fletcher, an ornithologist, nurtured Jane’s love of nature.

Jane’s mother died in 1889 and Jane (and her two sisters) eventually moved to north-western Tasmania. She became a teacher of sewing at West Kentish primary school and by 1899 she was appointed head teacher and was invited to set up a school at Upper Wilmont (Wall, 1996).

Although still in ankle-length dresses, Jane and her sister Sarah travelled by bicycle and waded through swamps in their quest for knowledge of nature and bird life in Tasmania.

Jane was a foundation member (1901) of the Royal Australasian Ornithologists’ Union. She went on to become a lifetime member and published many papers and articles on Tasmanian birds. The last book she wrote was entitled Tasmania’s Own Birds (1956). Jane also wrote books for children, sharing her love of the natural world.

Jane also held a lifetime interest in aborigines and produced a number of books for children and adults (fiction and non-fiction) about her perception of aborigines. Jane Fletcher was the first author to fictionalise Aboriginal culture for European children (Morris in Marcus, 1993).

Jane’s latter years were spent at Eaglehawk Neck. A few months before her death in 1956, Jane wrote a paper to be presented at a meeting of the Royal Australian Ornithological Union on the birds she could observe in her garden.

References :

Marcus, Julie; Lepervanche, Marie de; McBryde, Isabel; Prior, Mary Ellen Murray; White, Isobel; Morris, Miranda; O’Gorman, Anne; Marcus, Julie; and Cheater, Christine 1993, First in Their Field: Women and Australian Anthropology, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.

Wall, Leonard 1996 ‘Jane Ada Fletcher (1870-1956), Ornithologist and Author’, in Australian Dictionary of Biography, ed. John Ritchie, vol. 14, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, pp185-186.

An extensive selection of publications by Jane Ada Fletcher is available at the State Library of Tasmania including:

Fletcher, J.A., Aboriginal words as place names in Tasmania, Hobart: Tasmanian Education, 1953

Fletcher, J.A., Brave boys: and other stories of Australian animals and birds, Melbourne: Whitcombe & Tombs, 19?

Fletcher, J.A., A brief history of Port Arthur, 1804-1877, Tasmania: Hear-a-book, 1989

Fletcher, J.A., Brochure of nature study: suggestions and experiments for use in schools, [Hobart: s.n., 1933?]

Fletcher, J.A., Eaglehawk Neck, Hobart: J.A. Fletcher, 1946

Fletcher, J.A., Field notes on the spotless crake (porzana immaculate)

Fletcher, J.A., Further field notes on the Emu-wren (Stipiturus malachurus)

Fletcher, J.A., Hand painted greeting card showing a blue fairy wren

Fletcher, J.A., Little brown piccaninnies of Tasmania, Sydney: John Sands, 1950

Fletcher, J.A., Nature and adventure for boys and girls, London: Macmillan, 1916

Fletcher, J.A., Notes on the dialects of some of the aboriginal tribes of Tasmania

Fletcher, J.A., Our Palaeolithic fore-runners, Tasmania’s stone-age race

Fletcher, J.A., Port Arthur and its out-stations from 1804-1877, Hobart: Mercury, 1947

Fletcher, J.A., The stone age man of Tasmania: a brief account of his life and conditions, Hobart: Mercury Press, 1954

Fletcher, J.A., Stories from nature, London: Macmillan, 1915

Fletcher, J.A., Tasmania’s own birds, Hobart: Mercury Press, 195?

Fletcher, J.A., Tommy’s ride on the emu: a story for children aged 8 to 9 years, Melbourne: Whitcombe & Tombs

Fletcher, J.A., Wanna: a small Tasmanian aborigine who made friends with Captain Cook at Adventure Bay: For children aged 9 to 10 years, Melbourne: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1939

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