Published in History & Culture


Published in History & Culture


When A mother puts her own future happiness ahead of her first-born

Emily and Ernest on their wedding day

It's difficult for any parent to sacrifice their children's future happiness. This tale has the power to motivate everyone.

My husband is interested in genealogy and researching his family’s history. He discovered that his great-great-aunt, Emily Bowen, emigrated from England to Australia in 1882 with her husband, Ernest Saunders, and her two young sons. His research also showed that they left their five-year-old daughter, Lilian, in London.

As a mother of three, I could not begin to understand why any mother could travel to the other side of the world, probably never to return, and leave one of her children behind. Why would she do that? What possessed her to put her own future happiness ahead of her first-born? I had to find out more.

Thus, my work on ‘The Lost Seed of the Pomegranate’ began. It was a novel that took me two years to research and write. During that time, I travelled to Adelaide and met up with members of the Saunders family. I had to get into Emily’s very soul to work out why she should do such a thing. I believe this is what happened…

On the way to her wedding, Emily Bowen already carried the child of the man seated opposite her in the cramped compartment of a horse drawn carriage. Her husband-to-be, scion of the Twining tea dynasty, also carried the seed of a dream, to break the bonds of his Quaker heritage and emigrate to Australia.

In 1882 it took one hundred and one days to sail from London to Adelaide. Emily faced the biggest sacrifice a mother can make: to leave Lilian, her five-year-old daughter, behind. Her family settled in Adelaide, she worked relentlessly to have Lilian join her, suffering heartache and misery over the years. Thirty years later, Lilian made another huge sacrifice when the first and only love of her life went to war. 

I believe I have created a heart-warming tale of love, duty, and commitment on both sides of the world, which led to a final and heart-breaking reunion between mother and daughter.

Based on a true story of the Bowen/Saunders families from 1878 to 1929, "The Lost Seed of the Pomegranate" by Gillie Bowen

Visit Gillie’s website to read more about her novels and cookbooks:

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