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Fortunes of Richard Mahony, The

Australia Felix, The Way Home, Ultima Thule

australia england life felix

a trilogy of novels by Henry Handel Richardson, consisting of Australia Felix (1917), The Way Home (1925), and Ultima Thule (1929), published in one volume in 1930. Based largely on the life of the author's father, the work describes the central character's life from the early 1850s onwards. Australia Felix opens in 1852, and gives an account of the life of Richard Mahony, a 28-year-old immigrant of Irish extraction, formerly a medical student at Edinburgh University, who now runs a general store in Ballarat. It describes his marriage to Polly Turnham, and develops a panoramic picture of colonial Australian society, focusing on the reversals of fortune to which its members are subject, and ends with the departure of Mahony and his wife for England. The Way Home begins with the couple's arrival in England where Mahony establishes himself as a doctor, before becoming disillusioned with the restrictive social hierarchies of England. He returns to Australia, to find that his investments there have made him rich; after failing to settle into the wealthy society of Melbourne, he takes his family on a Grand Tour of Europe, only to learn that he has incurred financial ruin. Ultima Thule begins with Mahony's arrival back in Australia. After trying to establish a medical practice in Melbourne, he and family move to a small town in northern Victoria; but the practice fails, one of his daughters dies, and Mahony shows signs of mental instability. Eventually his wife leaves, taking the surviving children with her; Mahony follows her, but he deteriorates into madness and, after a period of incarceration in a mental asylum, dies.

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