The Blurb (from Goodreads):
For the ten years from 1902, when Australia’s suffrage campaigners won the vote for white women, the world looked to this trailblazing young democracy for inspiration.
Clare Wright’s epic new history tells the story of that victory—and of Australia’s role in the subsequent international struggle—through the eyes of five remarkable players: the redoubtable Vida Goldstein, the flamboyant Nellie Martel, indomitable Dora Montefiore, daring Muriel Matters, and artist Dora Meeson Coates, who painted the controversial Australian banner carried in the British suffragettes’ monster marches of 1908 and 1911.
Clare Wright’s Stella Prize-winning ‘The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka’ retold one of Australia’s foundation stories from a fresh new perspective. With You Daughters of Freedom she brings to life a time when Australian democracy was the envy of the world—and the standard bearer for progress in a shining new century.
I am a banner-waving feminist, and so hyper-aware of the long and difficult battle for women’s rights in this world. So when Richard Glover recommended Clare Wright’s monumental history of the Australian suffragists on our Word of Mouth episide with him and his wife Debra Oswald, I went out and bought it at once.
I’ve been reading it in stages ever since. It is ENORMOUS! Four-hundred-and-seventy-nine pages long, to be precise. But every word of it is utterly fascinating. I’ve kept it on my desktop and read a few pages most days. I have learned so much, and it has re-ignited the fire in my belly.
Clare Wright uses as her central symbol the women’s banner, hand-sewn by a woman named Dora Meeson Coates, which was first held aloft in 1908 when ten thousand women marched to the Albert Hall in london. It now hangs in Parliament House in Canberra, but has had many other adventures along the way, and I intend to go and see it next time I am in the capital city.
Central to the book ar ethe stories of five brave, clever and defiant women who suffered hardship, poverty, mockery and personal ehartbreak to fight for Ausrtalian women’s rights. Their names – which should be more widely known – are Vida Goldstein, Nellie Martel, Dora Montefiore, Muriel Matters, and Dora Meeson Coates, along with a great many others.
Clare Wright’s research is extraordinary, and her storytelling techniques suberb. Her book has subsequently been shortlisted for a number of awards including The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and the Queensland Literary Awards.
It’s a must-read for any Australian woman (though don’t try carrying it around in your handbag!)
You might also like to read my review of Take Courage:Anne Bronte by Samantha Ellis….