Camperdown Cemetery in the inner Sydney suburb of Newtown is the city’s oldest grave yard. Grim and gloomy even on a sunny day, its old crumbling tombstones create a sombre atmosphere that rivals any Victorian era grave yard that you might see in England.
Amongst all the tombstones in the cemetery is one of particular interest to readers of Dickens’ novels. Almost in the centre of the grave yard is a tombstone recording the demise of James Donnithorne who worked for the East India Company in Mysore and retired to Sydney in 1836. Smaller print at the bottom of the tombstone records the death of his daughter, Eliza Emily Donnithorne, who is believed to have been the inspiration for the character of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations.
On her wedding day in 1856, with the guests already assembled, Eliza was jilted. Just like Miss Havisham, Eliza left the wedding breakfast just as it was to moulder away on the dining table and never again left the house and spent the remaining 40 years of her life as a recluse.