The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Couvreur, Jessie Catherine ("Tasma")

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Couvreur, Jessie Catherine ("Tasma"), the well-known writer, is the daughter of Alfred James Huybers, J.P., of Hobart, Tas., and was born at Highgate, near London, being brought out as an infant by her parents to Tasmania in the early half of the fifties. Her father originally came from Antwerp to reside in England, and thence proceeded to Hobart, where the future novelist remained until her first marriage, when she went to live in Victoria, where her first story, "Barren Love" (recently republished by her in London in the collection "A Sydney Sovereign"), appeared in Mr. Garnet Walsh's Annual of 1877. She also contributed original tales, sketches, and essays to the Australasian and the Melbourne Review. In 1879 she went to reside permanently in Europe, which she had visited a few years previously. From 1880 to 1882 she lectured in French on Australia in France and Belgium for the Geographical Society of Paris. She also wrote for Madame Adam's Nouvelle Revue, and received from the French Government the decoration of Officier d'Académie. In 1883-4 she revisited Australia. On her return to Europe she was married in 1885 to M. Auguste Couvreur, the well-known Belgian publicist, and has resided since in Brussels. M. Couvreur, who is the senior foreign member of the Cobden Club, and has been connected with the Independence Belge both as contributor and editor, was for twenty years one of the Liberal representatives of Brussels, and for four years Vice-President of the Chamber. In 1889, under her nom-de-plume "Tasma," Madame Couvreur published in London her first complete novel, entitled "Uncle Piper of Piper's Hill"—a story of Australian life and manners, which was most highly commended by the leading literary critics in England and on the Continent. Her second novel, "In her Earliest Youth," published in 1890, is likewise Australian, and was equally well received by the press. About the same time "Tasma" also brought out the collection of short tales called "A Sydney Sovereign." She has now a new one-volume novel in the press entitled "A White Feather," and from time to time she has contributed an occasional story to Mr. Edmund Yates's society journal, the World. Since her residence in Europe, Madame Couvreur has sent various contributions to the Melbourne Australasian, and is generally recognised, particularly in Victoria and Tasmania, as one of the leading writers, who, if not actually born, have been entirely educated in the colonies. "Tasma" contributed to Mr. Mennell's "In Australian Wilds" (published by Hutchinson & Co.), and in Christmas 1890 a story to "Over the Sea," a collection of stories for English and Australian children, one to the collection "Under the Gum-Tree," and also the opening tale, "An Old Time Episode in Tasmania," to Mrs. Patchett Martin's "Cooëe."