Show Less
Restricted access

A Splendid Adventure

Australian Suffrage Theatre on the World Stage

Susan Bradley Smith

Australia led the world in the achievement of woman’s suffrage and the nation’s cultural history reflects this ambitious and progressive atmosphere. The impressive achievements of suffrage feminists in Australian theatre, however, are an untold story, as is their contribution to the development of international women’s theatre of the time. A Splendid Adventure brings these experiences and experiments to light through a group biography exploring the theatrical careers of Katharine Susannah Prichard, Stella Miles Franklin, and Inez Isabel Bensusan. Chosen because of their expatriate involvement in the women’s movement, their international profile as enfranchised Australian women, and their exceptional contribution to both the development of Australian drama and international feminist theatre, these women embody the energies and passions of Australian suffrage playwrights. The biographies of these major figures are accompanied by the dramatic stories of the New Women playwrights, the theatrical endeavours of women university students, and a consideration of international feminist theatre on tour in Australia, including the work of migrant suffragette Adela Pankhurst. The volume also includes the full text of a play by each playwright. Australian suffrage playwrights emerge from this study as exceptional feminists, expatriates, and theatre workers, whose «splendid adventures» have considerable implications for international women’s theatre, feminist dramatic criticism, and Australian theatre historiography.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access



The research and writing of this book was made possible by the award of several research grants (thank you to the University of New England, La Trobe University, and Curtin University) and the generosity and encouragement of many, whose gifts ranged from critical engagement and advice to financial and in-kind assistance. I am extremely grateful to the trustees of the State Library of New South Wales for granting permission to publish Somewhere in London, and to the State Library of South Australia for permission to reproduce Thelma Afford’s sketch of her suffragette costume designed for South Australia’s Centenary Pageant of 1936. To Katharine Susannah Prichard’s rights holder, who provided permission to publish the manuscript of ‘The Burglar’, and the National Library of Australia for facilitating this, I am gratefully indebted. I extend special thanks to James Bradley, Georgina Siri, Julian Croft, Viv Gardner, Julie Holledge, Veronica Kelly, Jackie Kramer, Matthias Pfisterer, Susan Croft, Carl Bridge, Brian Flanagan, and Diana Mastrodomenico. Angela John and Katherine Kelly kindly shared information, and the late Doris Mardie Smith assisted in the transcription of material. It was a pleasure to work with theatre historian colleagues Elizabeth Schafer and Carolyn Pickett on other histories of women and theatre. The Australasian Drama Studies Association enabled me to test through publication and conferences many of the arguments contained in this book. Many institutions have given kindly of their time, including the Imperial War Museum, Melbourne University’s Janet Clarke Hall, and Berkelouw Antiquarian Bookdealers. The staff of...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.