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Good luck letter

Date: 21 February 1907
Display dimensions: 203 x 126 mm
Medium: Paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Richard Lewis
Object Name: Envelope and letter
Object No: ANMS0822[024]
Related Place:Sydney,

User Terms

    Gertie's brother-in-law wishes her luck in a single sculls race in this letter:

    Dear Gertrude,
    Just a line to wish you good luck in your race on Saturday, I hope you will have your eyes on your opponents back from start to finish.
    Your affectionate brother-in-law
    Alf Sargeant
    SignificanceThis letter relates to the remarkable sculling careers of the sisters Gertie and Kitty Lewis. It represents the Australian reinvention of British rowing at the turn of the 19th century, and the struggles of female competitors in the male dominated sport.
    HistoryThe fledgling colony of New South Wales produced the best professional scullers in the world in the late 19th century. Seven men were world champions several times over between 1876 and 190. With an international appeal rivalled only by boxers, these Champion Scullers of the World were wildly popular with an Australian public addicted to betting and sport. On Saturday afternoons huge crowds lined the banks of Sydney's Parramatta River to watch the sculling contests. Wealthy publicans put up big cash prizes for the champions and heavy gambling was encouraged. But with rumours of race-rigging, the adoring public became disillusioned with the sport. The onset of the 1890s Depression also dampened their ardour. By the early 1910s the golden days of professional sculling were over.

    'Ladies' sculling races were added to regattas as novelty events in the early 1900s. While not as famous as their male counterparts, their race results were still reported with great drama in the sporting press. Gertrude 'Gertie' Lewis (1887 -1953) and her sister Kathleen 'Kitty' Lewis (1889-1945) were professional sculling champions on Sydney Harbour in the early 1900s. The sisters raced in both single and double sculls. Both girls also excelled at swimming and diving and were rivals of the great Annette Kellerman.

    After winning countless double sculling contests with her sister, Kitty Lewis' career was cut short in 1906 when she was badly injured when a rowlock pierced her thigh while racing. Gertie Lewis continued to compete and was Ladies Sculling Champion of Australia six times between 1906 and 1911. Like male scullers of the time, Gertie and Kitty chose their own distinctive racing colours - red cap to match their bright red hair, long navy skirt, white jumper with a red sash and black stockings and shoes.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Good luck letter

    Assigned title: Letter and envelope

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