Mary Lee, the Irishwoman who campaigned for women’s rights in Australia

Monaghan-born Lee became prominent suffragist and advocate for asylum residents

Mary Lee. Photograph: State Library of South Australia

Mary Lee. Photograph: State Library of South Australia

“My cause is the cause of womanhood, and no bluster or denunciation will silence me while one wrong to womanhood exists of which I have knowledge or against which I have the power to protest.”

So wrote Monaghan-born Mary Lee in the Adelaide Observer on August 22nd, 1891. She emerged from an obscure background to become one of the most prominent Australian suffragists, and campaigner for the rights of working women and asylum residents. She paired an uncompromising rhetoric with a social outlook informed by Methodism.

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