Books & Literature

Book Review: Trailblazers: 100 inspiring South Australian Women, by Carolyn Collins and Roy Eccleston

Moya Dodd

HISTORY: An insight into some of South Australia’s female trailblazers, from our first female Prime Minister to the nation’s first female winemaker & more.

A terrific overview of inspirational women over 125 years of South Australia history.
5

Husband and wife team Carolyn Collins and Roy Eccleston are well qualified to write the history of 100 of the many inspiring women which South Australia has produced. Collins is a research fellow in history at the University of Adelaide and Eccleston is an award-winning journalist.

Some of the names may be familiar to readers: Julia Gillard, our first female Prime Minister, and Dame Roma Mitchell, who was Australia’s first QC and then the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court bench. The profiles also include women who deserve to be much better known: women like Alice (Alitya) Rigney, who became principal of the nation’s first Indigenous school and revived teaching of the Kaurna language, or Nora Heysen, who had the double distinction of being the first female artist to win the Archibald Prize and the first woman appointed as an official war artist.

South Australia is well known for its very early leadership in granting women the right to vote and to stand for office.

The authors acknowledge that their selection may ‘spark lively arguments about who’s in and who’s out’ and how hard it was to limit the list to just one hundred women (Wakefield Press Media Release 20 Dec 2019).  But whatever one’s view of the individual women included, the very fact that the book brings our attention to the many ways that women have contributed to our State, and further afield, deserves to be celebrated.

The book is a large format, hardcover book of some 300-plus pages produced on high quality, gloss paper and is the sort of book one can read from cover to cover or enjoy dipping into at random. Each woman is featured in a full page portrait and a further two pages of a brief biographical sketch. This layout provides a good starting point for readers, particularly students, who want to know more about the many contributions of South Australian women.

It also includes a bibliography for those who perhaps want to learn more about these often-overlooked women who made their mark in fields as varied as they are. From law, wine making, politics, art, unions, women’s rights, music, cooking to sport, to mention just a few of the many inspirational paths these women have taken.

Reviewed by Jan Kershaw

Distributed by: Wakefield Press
Released: December 2019
RRP: $70.00

Top image: Moya Dodd, an Australian soccer official, a lawyer and former national team player.

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