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The Life of Esmeralda Lock

A talk by Romani academic Dr Ken Lee on the incredible life of Esmeralda Lock.

A Romani woman, a forced marriage, a trophy bride, a seducer, adulteress and divorcee, a re-marriage, a separation, widowhood, an old age of poverty and a lonely death.

Esmeralda Lock (1854–1939) was a Romani woman, whose life from the age of sixteen was intertwined with Gypsilorists. Accounts of her life appeared in two books, Tent Life with English Gypsies in Norway by Hubert Smith, her first husband (1873) and My Gypsy Days, by her "Romani Sister" Dora Yates (1953). A further account was published in a magazine article by Morley Tonkin (1963).

Drawing on recent discussions about the use and interpretation of archives, Dr Ken Lee will "read against the grain" and present a counter-narrative of Esmeralda’s life.

Dr Ken Lee was born in Ireland, to a Romani father and a gaji Irish mother. As an infant, he and his family ceased travelling and settled in England where we was raised and educated. He completed his first degree in Geography at the University of Liverpool before emigrating to Australia and completing a Master’s degree in Geography. He taught in the Department of Geography at the University of Newcastle, NSW Australia, later transferring to the Department of Sociology and Anthropology where he obtained his Doctorate.

Dr Lee was the Foundation President of the Romani Association of Australia, unfortunately now disbanded.

Portrait sketch of Romani woman Esmerelda Lock
Portrait sketch of Romani woman Esmerelda Lock
Portrait sketch of Romani woman Esmerelda Lock