Helen Hart

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Helen Hart is associated with Melbourne, Victoria located at these coordinates -37.8131869, 144.9629796

Date of Birth: 6th March 1842
Date of Death: 16th July 1908
Also known as:
Related Resource URL: htp://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hart-helen-12966
User Tags: helen hart, 1891 women's suffrage petition

Born in 1842 in Birmingham, England, Helen Hart was involved with anti-slavery, religious, suffrage and temperance movements. At 19 years of age she began open-air preaching and in 1876 was on the Executive Committee of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage in the United Kingdom.

In 1879 she sailed to New Zealand as an emigrant ship’s matron and a year later came to Melbourne. She preached at Dr Singleton’s Melbourne Mission Hall and lectured widely throughout Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania on health, temperance, politics and women’s rights. Hart was subjected to attacks by a hostile press and members of the public. She was called a street-walker (a prostitute), and experienced heckling, catcalls and ‘jokes’ such as exploding fireworks and having lighting extinguished at her public lectures. A railway official once addressed her with the words ‘Aren’t you dead yet?’

Hart responded with letters to the newspapers, complaints to government officials and parliamentarians, threatening and sometimes taking court action. She even horsewhipped an impudent Castlemaine editor. Unfortunately she also had a poor relationship with other leaders of the women’s movement.

In the 1890s Hart was subjected to the activities of a stalker. Tragically the experience turned the once clever, self-reliant and feisty woman into one prone to isolation, paranoia and erratic behaviour. She wanted to return to England to join the suffragettes but died in July 1908 in Melbourne.

This woman signed the 1891 Women's Suffrage Petition You can see the entire petition on the Parliament of Victoria Website.

(Material for this section is courtesy PROV researcher Helen Harris)


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