Jobs were few and poverty was widespread among educated middle-class women in nineteenth-century Britain. Great Expectations is the story of a group of intrepid ladies who forged a different path - as governesses to wild colonial boys and girls on the other side of the world. Often fluent in multiple foreign languages, skilled artists and musicians, the women came with great expectations. Some gained employment with well-established families or found husbands; others battled extreme loneliness and unemployment far from home.
Great Expectations tells the colonial experiences of a particular group of emigrant women who borrowed money from the Female Middle Class Emigration Society to pay their fares to Australia. It also tells a broader story, of emigration, education, class prejudice and the development of Australian society.