Unbridling the Tongues of Women

Spence cover

A biography of Catherine Helen Spence

by Susan Magarey


FREE | 2010 | Electronic (PDF) | 978-0-9806723-0-5 | 214 pp

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/UPO9780980672305

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Originally published in 1985, this revised edition with an updated Introduction, is being published by the University of Adelaide Press to commemorate the anniversary of Catherine Helen Spence's death on 3 April 1910.

Catherine Helen Spence was a charismatic public speaker in the late nineteenth century, a time when women were supposed to speak only at their own firesides. In challenging the custom and convention that confined middle-class women to the domestic sphere, she was carving a new path into the world of public politics along which other women would follow, in the first Australian colony to win votes for women.

She was also much more – a novelist deserving comparison with George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman; a pioneering woman journalist; a ‘public intellectual’ a century before the term was coined; a philanthropic innovator in social welfare and education, with an influence reaching far beyond South Australia; Australia’s first female political candidate. A ‘New Woman’, she declared herself. The ‘Grand Old Woman of Australia’ others called her.