Authors’ best books read lately
Richard Glover recommends:
You Daughters of Freedom: The Australians Who Won the Vote and Inspired the World
By Clare Wright
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 TV episode starring he 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 – 479 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 10,000 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 are the stories of five brave, clever and defiant women who suffered hardship, poverty, mockery and personal heartbreak to fight for Australian 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!).