Unbridling the Tongues of Women: A biography of Catherine by Susan Magarey

By Susan Magarey

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Additional info for Unbridling the Tongues of Women: A biography of Catherine Helen Spence

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Abbie, Mrs R. N. Beckwith, Mrs C. Barham Black, Miss M. E. Crompton, Miss Phyllis Crompton, Mrs Nancy Jones, the Reverend Allen Kirby, Mr Patric Morice, Mrs Rose Moore, Mr Moxom Simpson and Miss E. G. Walker. To Mrs Marjorie Caw I owe more than I can adequately acknowledge here. I am grateful, too, to the staff of the South Australian Archives and Newspaper Reading Room, and to the staff of the Petherick room in the Australian National Library, particularly to Mrs Pauline Fanning. I first began reading about Spence at the suggestion of Manning Clark, and under the guidance of Douglas Pike and Barry Smith.

It was like that of Bret Harte’s version of Aesop’s Fables, which she gave to a friend for Christmas:52 it had an edge, albeit a fairly blunt one. One of her favourite jokes was against herself, and she told it often. She arrived at a meeting to find that she had not been notified of several earlier meetings. She complained that she ‘did not want to be merely an ornamental member’ of that Board. ’ She was laughing before he realized what he had said. As she left, she encountered the chairman’s business partner and, chuckling, told him of the faux pas.

The daughter of one old friend related a story about Miss Spence helping her mother find a washerwoman. 37 Other recollections present her as absent-minded – she left for America without her purse38 – and prone to awkward situations. She recalled one on her first campaign for proportional representation: I had no advance agents to announce my arrival, and at one town in the north I found nobody at the station to meet me. I spent the most miser- 12 Introduction able two and a half hours of my life waiting Micawber-like for something to turn up; and it turned up in the person of the village blacksmith.

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