This is the first of a three-volume set containing approximately 1800 letters to and from Richardson, which form a correspondence between Australia, England, Germany, Italy and the USA for the period 1874 to 1946. The letters shed light on Richardson's biography, her artistic methods, her personal life, her friendships (and antagonisms), her response to Australian readers and to expatriation, and her efforts to maintain a literary life apart from her personal life. They include her earliest known letter, and trace her student days in Leipzig, the publication of "Maurice Guest", "The Getting of Wisdom", "The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney", "The End of Childhood" and "The Young Cosima", and her experience of life in wartime England. Some of the most vivid letters describe her schooldays (the biographical context for "The Getting of Wisdom"), her memories of the Australian bush, her relationship with Vance and Nettie Palmer, her meetings with Miles Franklin and her views on contemporary writing.
The letters to Mary Kernot provide constant linkages between life in England and Australia during the most formative period for Australian literature (including the negotiations for her Nobel Prize nomination).