Re-evaluating Polly Plum’s contribution to the 'first wave' of feminism
The Public History Talks are hosted by the Ministry for Culture & Heritage History Group at the National Library of New Zealand. They are usually held on the first Wednesday of the month from March to November.
- Date: Wednesday, 1 August, 2018
12:10pm to 1:00pm
Free no booking required.
Te Ahumairangi (ground floor), National Library, corner Molesworth and Aitken Streets, Thorndon
- Contact Details:
Come and hear biographer Dr Jenny Coleman talk about Mary Ann Colclough (Polly Plum), feminist, social reformer, educationalist and one of the earliest published female authors in New Zealand.
‘A highly controversial public figure for a few years only’
The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography entry for, ‘feminist and social reformer’ Mary Ann Colclough (Polly Plum) describes her as ‘a highly controversial public figure for a few years only’.
In Professor Charlotte Macdonald’s (1993) history of feminist writing in New Zealand titledThe Vote, the Pill and the Demon Drink, Polly Plum is referred to as one of a few isolated early social voices whose ideas, although read and discussed, ‘did not prompt widespread agitation, sudden changes in the law, or even a sustained debate on the position of women’.
Re-evaluating Mary Ann Colclough's place in New Zealand history
As we celebrate 125 years of women’s suffrage, and with the recent publication of a full-length biography, it’s time to re-evaluate Mary Ann Colclough’s place in New Zealand history, her contribution to the nineteenth century women’s movement, and her particular role in the 'first wave' of feminism.
As well as being a feminist and a social reformer, she was a noted and leading educationalist and one of the earliest published female authors in New Zealand.
This talk shares some of the less-known parts of her life, some challenges faced by her biographer, and, above all, puts forward a case for why she was much more than an isolated social voice
About the speaker
Dr Jenny Coleman is a feminist historian at Massey University. She is author of two biographies, Mad or Bad? The life and exploits of Amy Bock, 1859-1945 (2010) and Polly Plum, a firm and earnest woman’s advocate: Mary Ann Colclough, 1836-1885 (2017). Jenny has recently edited and introduced a reprint of Mary Ann Colclough’s (1866) novel Alone in the World, A tale of life in New Zealand. Her current research is a history of women in Parliament (Maiden Speeches, forthcoming).