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Maybanke Anderson strongly believed in the education of young children. She set up the first free kindergarten at Woolloomooloo in 1895.

Image title:
Maybanke Anderson

Lone Hand, 2 February 1914,
National Library of Australia

Maybanke Anderson (1845–1927)

Feminist and federalist

Anderson came with her parents to Sydney from England and trained as a teacher. When she was 22, she married a handsome loser, and was probably already pregnant. In 11 years she had seven children, of whom four died as babies. When the law was changed to allow married women to own property, her brother gave her a house. Her husband left, and after the reform of the divorce law, she was able to divorce him for desertion. She earned her living by running a very successful private school.

In 1891 she was one of the founders of the Womanhood Suffrage League. In 1894 she started a magazine, Women's Voice, which discussed sex (something usually not talked about in public) and explained and supported contraception.

The feminists of Sydney were divided over Federation, as was the city itself. Anderson was in favour. She organised a Women's Federal League which raised money and campaigned for the 'Yes' vote.

In 1899 she married a professor of philosophy from the University of Sydney. This was a happy marriage and she was able to continue her work for women.