Fr Julian Tenison Woods’ letter to William Archer on 3 January 1888 from his home in Elizabeth Street, Sydney, was probably not penned by himself. However, he did add his own signature.

The reason for not writing himself was a serious deterioration in his health, leaving him an invalid unable to use his hands and feet freely. His eyesight was also failing. Yet, despite all this, Fr Julian was continuing to work from his travel notes and prepare articles and scientific papers. His able assistant was Anne Bulger, to whom he had also dictated his Memoirs. (Anne was a member of the lay community of devoted women who cared for Julian in his final invalid years.)

This letter portrays a man determined not to be overcome by his physical disabilities. Fr Julian’s mind is alert and active and, despite all, he is still able to very successfully get his thoughts on paper.

Fr Julian describes his brother, Terry, as having had his purgatory in this world – maybe the same words apply to himself. We see a man of suffering trapped in a failing body yet still able to live as fully as he possibly can – he does not feel imprisoned and his tone is cheerful.

William Archer may well have treasured this letter.

View Letter 30 written from Sydney on 3 January 1888:

Archer Letter 30 (PDF)