CONSTRUCTING NARRATIVE ACCOUNTS FROM IMMIGRANT LETTERS: THOMAS SPENCER NIBLOCK - A DIALOGUE OF RESPECTABILITY AND FAILURE
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In pursuit of material security and social respectability, the middle class Englishman Thomas Spencer Niblock engaged in multiple migrations between England, Australia and Canada during the years 1838-1853, before dying in a shipwreck with his wife and two children while on a voyage between Melbourne and Sydney. Niblock repeatedly failed to achieve his goals, which were often subverted by his own poor judgment and miscalculation, in spite of the fact that he received substantial subsidies from an affluent sister and brother-in-law in England. Throughout his various failures, he struggled to see himself as a devoted father and husband and an ethical Christian. Using the personal letters exchanged between Niblock, his sister Christiana, and her husband Edward Spencer, this essay illustrates the ways in which, within the context of the pressures of immigration, Niblock's letters became the vehicle for his efforts to bolster his fragile personal identity, while reconstituting relationships upon which, both materially and psychologically, that identity depended.
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