Anderson, Maybanke Susannah

Maybanke Susannah Anderson (1845-1927), suffragist and social reformer, was born in England to parents who believed that women should be able to earn their own living. In Sydney, at 22, she married Edmund Wolstenholme. Twelve children were born, but only three survived to adulthood.

Edmund was often unemployed, so Maybanke kept a boarding house, then ran a fee-paying girls’ school (Maybanke College). Although the marriage had failed, divorce was impossible until 1892. Seven years later she married the younger Professor of Philosophy, Francis Anderson, her partner in reform campaigns. As a publicist and orator she advocated votes and access to higher education for women, kindergartens and inner-city playgrounds for children, teacher training and adult education. With other suffragists she took advantage of federation negotiations to ensure that women were enfranchised in the new Commonwealth.
Maybanke Kindergarten and the Maybanke Youth Centre in Harris Street are two of many reminders of her exceptional life and works.