The Queen of King Street

One of the joys of editing books is that you get read stories. People have been telling stories from the dawn of human existence.

Early man would tell tales of catching mammoths that relived the excitement and fostered group communication for the next hunt.

Great sagas such as the Trojan War, the Greek myths, Arthurian legends have sparked our imaginations with feats of bravery and exoticism that relieved the monotony of the every day world. Look at the following that Harry Potter has generated in the last few decades!

Some of the most popular stories are ones that we identify with, the biographies of folk who lived lives just like ours. A fabulous autobiography crossed my desk two years ago. The project is about to come to fruition, so come with me on a journey...

The Queen of King Street

Lola Russell lives in the oldest house in Melbourne's CBD. It is a tiny two-storeyed cottage built in 1850, with a shop along King Street and the living quarters behind, facing La Trobe Street. Her grandfather bought it as a shop-cum-dwelling in 1899, and her family have run it as a food outlet ever since. She was born in the cottage and, aside from 18 months in the Great Depression and 9 years overseas, has lived in it all her life. At the grand age of 93, she and I are about to publish her first book, her memoirs entitled The Queen of King Street. What a story they tell!


Lola's house in 1858, only 8 years after it was built. It's the white one on the right.

A pioneer family

Her family memories go back to when her great-grandparents met in 1842, only seven years after 'white fellas' settled in the area and marked it out as a future city. The proceeds from Antonio and Margaret's shop which supplied to the gold fields (and no doubt a good dose of Scottish frugality from her forebears) allowed Margaret and her five children to continue their educations in Europe. On returning to Melbourne, they arrived in a vibrant city, the second-largest in the British Empire, where Lola's great-grandparents became part of the inner social set.

They entertained visiting opera singers, had numerous parties and were on the Government House invitation list. Their sons were the state government lithographers, their daughter and her husband were pioneers in the now world-famous Yarra Valley viticulture industry. 

So imagine their horror when their 19-year-old son Valetta falls in love with a blonde seamstress from the 'wrong' suburb - and marries her! To find out what happened next, you'll have to buy the book.

In the meantime, I'll keep posting on Lola's website. Please like her Facebook page at TheQueenofKingSt.

If you have a book 'in' you but feel self-conscious about a book editor looking over your work, contact me for a chat about how we can partner together to craft something special. Email me at susan@creativetext.com.au for user-friendly book services.  

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