Reprint: Obituary: Miss Catherine Spence

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Adelaide. April 3.

Miss Catherine Helen Spence, whose writtings on social and political subjects are known all over the world, died at her residence, Kent Town, early this morning. She was 84 years of age.

The late Miss Catherine Helen Spence, authoress and literary writer, was the president of the Effective Voting League of South Australia, and vice-president of the National Council of Women. She was born at Melrose, in Scotland, on October 31, 1825, and was a daughter of David Spence, writer and banker, her mother being Helen Brodie, who had descended from a long line of tenant farmers in East Lothian. She arrived in South Australia with her parents in November, 1839. Since 1859 the main object of her life was electoral reform -- the Hare-Spence system of proportional representation or effective voting -- in which cause she lectured throughout South Australia and in other States and delivered about a hundred lectures in United States, America, and Canada, and also interested herself in the children of the State. The movement made by Miss C. E. Clark in 1872 to take these out of institutions and place them in family homes was joined by her, and after 13 years' work on the Boarding-out Committee she was appointed a member of the State Children's Council, with which she had been associated since 1886. She was a member of the Destitute Board since 1896. She sat on the Adelaide Hospital Commission in 1895, and was president of the Wo- man's Co-operative Clothing Factory. She held a commission from the South Australian Government in 1893 to inquire into educational, constitutional, and electoral laws, the management of benevolent institutions, and the question of bimetallic currency, especially to take part in the congresses held in Chicago in that year. She had written extensively for the South Australian Press since 1878, more particularly the "Register," and she contributed numerous articles to "Fraser's Magazine," "Cornhill," "Harper's," "Melbourne Review," "Victorian Review," the "Centennial," and other magazines and journals, and she was the author of several works, including "Clara Morison" (a novel in two volumes, 1854), "Tender and True" (two volumes, 1856), "Mr. Hogarth's Will" (three volumes, 1865), "The Author's Daughter" (three volumes, 1867), "Gathered In" (novel), and "The Laws We Live Under, with some chapters on Elementary Political Economy and the Duties of Citizens" (published under the direction of the South Australian Education Department, 1880). She lectured for many years on literary subjects, and filled Unitarian pulpits in Australia and America. She was a candidate for the Federal Convention in 1897 on the one issue of electoral reform, and received 7,500 votes, which were insufficient for election.

First published in Western Mail, 9 April 1910

Note: Catherine Helen Spence died in Adelaide on 3 April 1910.

[Thanks to the National Library of Australia's newspaper digitisation project for this piece.]

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 29, 2011 9:59 AM.

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