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Catherine Helen Spence was born in 1825 in Scotland and migrated to South Australia with her family in 1839.
She was a strong literary figure, and was Australia's first truly professional woman journalist. She was Australia's first female political candidate and a lifelong campaigner for electoral reform. Spence's influence on suffrage culminated in South Australia being the first Australian colony to grant the vote to women, and the first in the world to give women the right to stand for Parliament.
She was also a teacher, lecturer, preacher and dedicated social reformer. In her later years she was known as the 'Grand Old Woman of Australia' and died in 1910.
For more information, see her entry in the Australian dictionary of biography.
This chronological bibliography of over 2,130 items was compiled by South Australian historian and writer Dr Barbara Wall, and provides comprehensive access to the vast published output of Spence between 1845 and 1910, and beyond this date, to the tributes and biographical material about Spence which extend into the 1990s.
Catherine Helen Spence was Australia's first truly professional woman journalist and first female political candidate, as well as a fearless social and political reformer in South Australia. Her influence on suffrage, culminating in South Australia being the first state in the world to give women the right to stand for Parliament, extended beyond Australia.
As an indication of her continuing influence, Adelaide's daily newspaper The Advertiser on 20 December 1999 included Catherine Helen Spence in its list of the ten greatest South Australians of the 20th century, and this despite the fact that most of her work was done in the 19th century.
Spence's role in Federation was recognised nationally by her placement on one side of Australia's 2001 Federation five dollar note, with Sir Henry Parkes 'the father of federation' on the other. The five dollar note is reproduced here with kind permission of the Reserve Bank of Australia.
If you have any original items by Spence, you may wish to consider donating a copy to the State Library, or the original being donated as a Cultural Gift Bequest with taxation benefits.
If you would like to make an enquiry or request information about Spence please use the Library's Ask Us research service.
The State Library of South Australia has close associations with Catherine Helen Spence