Out of the many fictional girlhood characters that I met with over my childhood reading years, it is Norah Linton of Billabong Station that has remained my constant companion and friend. A construction of the lesser known Australian children’s author Mary Grant Bruce, Norah was calm, kind, brave and strong — all of the things I wanted to be! I eagerly followed Norah through her fifteen different adventures, both at home and abroad, written between 1910 and 1942 by Bruce for her “Billabong” series.
Being quietly unassuming and modest to a tee, Norah herself would have balked at the idea of being anyone’s heroine — something that made her even more perfect in my eyes! As an Australian girl growing up in the city, to me she was the perfect image of the Australian bush-girl: so much so that if I ever have a daughter she too will be named Norah. As an adult today, I see some of Norah’s flaws. She lacked passion, and although you knew she loved her husband and son, present in the later Billabong books, this rarely shone through in the novels. So while my daughter will definitely be named Norah, I hope she will also have a sprinkling of Anne Shirley’s love of life and Jo March’s passion.
Norah is not known to too many girls at the moment, even within Australia. However, I feel that if you ever discover her, you too will have found a heroine, and a friend for life.