Image of Ethel C. Pedley


Lifetime: 1859 - 1898 Passed: ≈ 125 years ago


Author, Musician


England, Australia

Ethel C. Pedley

Ethel Charlotte Pedley was an English-Australian author and musician. 

Ethel Charlotte Pedley was born on 19 June 1859 at Acton, near London. She was the daughter of Frederick Pedley and his wife Eliza, née Dolby. Pedley began piano lessons aged 5. Pedley migrated to Australia with her family in the 1870s but returned to London to study at the Royal Academy of Music, where she studied with her uncle Prosper Sainton, professor of violin, and won a medal. She was also trained by her aunt, the famous contralto Charlotte Sainton-Dolby, at her Vocal Academy. 

Pedley returned to Sydney in 1882, and began teaching singing and the violin. In 1896 Emmeline Woolley and Pedley visited London and persuaded the Associated Board of the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music to extend their examinations to the Australian colonies. Pedley was appointed the solo representative of the Royal Academy of Music for New South Wales. The first examiner visited in 1897. 


Pedley's only published book is Dot and the Kangaroo, which featured a little girl named Dot who becomes lost in the Australian outback, and is helped to find her way back home by a friendly kangaroo. The illustrations were drawn by Frank P. Mahony. 


Pedley was a believer in the conservation of the Australian flora and fauna, and usually wrote from this perspective, singling out 'man' as disconnected from nature and the rest of the animals. It is thought her writing was inspired by her visits to the property owned by her brother Arthur, near Walgett. 


Ethel's preface to Dot and the Kangaroo is as follows: 


To the children of Australia  
in the hope of enlisting their sympathies  
for the many beautiful, amiable, and frolicsome creatures  
of their fair land,  
whose extinction, through ruthless destruction,  
is being surely accomplished 


Stricken with cancer, Pedley died on 6 August 1898 at the Darlinghurst home of her companion Emmeline Woolley at the age of 39. Her only novel, Dot and the Kangaroo would be published posthumously the following year. Pedley was buried in the Anglican section of Waverley Cemetery. Following her death, her brother established the Ethel Pedley memorial travelling scholarship for music students.

Books by Ethel C. Pedley

Dot and the Kangaroo Cover image

Dot and the Kangaroo

Fiction Novel
Animal Children's Literature

Dot and the Kangaroo is an 1899 Australian children's book written by Ethel C. Pedley about a little girl named Dot who gets lost in the Australian outback and is eventually befriended by a kangaroo and several other marsupials. The book was adapted...