Unsung Heroines - Biographies of Christchurch Women written to commemorate Women's Suffrage Year, 1993

Biographies of Christchurch Women
Written to commemorate Women’s Suffrage Year, 1993

by Richard L N Greenaway

Preface to Unsung Heroines

To commemorate Women’s Suffrage Year I wrote a series of articles on Christchurch women. Eleven articles appeared in Bookmark, Christchurch City Libraries’ monthly publication, between February and December 1993. The present volume reproduces and expands on these articles and includes photographs and cartoons gathered since the series ceased.

Of the selection, Annie Quayle Townend lives in the public mind as one-time owner of the reserve Mona Vale. Bella Button has been rescued from obscurity by Mary Mountier and appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand biography and Racing women of New Zealand. May Furey, Isabella Hucks and Ethel Clark are known to an older generation. Posterity has forgotten the others. I hope their stories will demonstrate that, contrary to legend, Victorian women could be strong-minded and independent.

It is more difficult to trace the history of women than their menfolk. In the past, women tended to have been seen only in the context of their husbands or fathers. For example, Canterbury Museum’s Macdonald biographical dictionary entered women under the names of their spouses; in one entry the husband is listed with the comment: She was a famous midwife.

Throughout the text the women have been referred to by their Christian names. However, each was known in her time as 'Miss' or 'Mrs' with the surname immediately following the honorific: thus 'Mrs Knight', 'Mrs Townend', 'Mrs Furey'.

Family members have helped with memories, anecdotes and photographs. Other people, both in Christchurch and elsewhere, have sought individual details as requested. We acknowledge their assistance in the sources which follow each entry. Special thanks to Mrs Daisy Greenaway whose knowledge of Christchurch history has suggested several of the personalities who appear in the book and whose research assistance eased many a burden.

Richard L N Greenaway
June 1994

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