Inspiring Women

November 2008, brought the One Hundreth Anniversary of the Women of the State of Victoria, gaining the right to a vote. In thinking about this, and thinking about the women who had brought this about, my thoughts turned to other courageous women throughout history, who had changed the life outcomes of women today. I contemplated whether any of these women were inspiring to my female ancestors, and decided to document the women who inspire my life in a quilt. I have also documented this in a ‘scrapbooking’ format after a patchwork friend encouraged me to do so, as why these women inspire me could not be explained on my quilt.

I started stitching before I finished my quilt: not knowing how many women I’d end up with. My final number being forty-One included my’ Unknown Woman. You can read her story a s the last entry.


The Wallhanging.

Each of my women is placed in a on-point crazy patchwork setting of embroidery, piecing, lacework and motifs.You can see a bit of this in an image further down the page.

My list of women & the lessens learnt from them.

Anne Frank –  I  read her diary when I was a young girl myself. I remember thinking to myself at the time, here is this girl, living, falling in love but she still maintained  expectations of a full life, in such hardship and uncertain times. Strength of Faith.

Averil Colby – A Clever and creative patchworker. Averil worked with traditional patterns and used them to advance patchwork design. Averil was a keen gardener and many of her quilts reflect  images of flowers and bugs. But the legacy she left the world is the books she was invited to write, which continue to inspire and reach out to us to……Think outside the square.

Sister Mary MacKillop – As a Catholic school student, who attended a school run by Josephite nuns, we were told many stories of her life, and hardships endured to achieve what she believed in. Strength of Character.

Beatrix Potter – Beatrix is best remembered for her creation of Peter rabbit and Friends. Beatrix was a woman ahead of her time, she believed in her abilities, and persisted and found a way to support herself, from those endeavours. Believe in your own abilities.

Kathryn Hepburn – Kathryn exhibited an air of grace and confidence, that has long inspired me. She sustained this all her life.  Display Confidence.

Emily Dickinson – A bit of a loner who wrote such beautiful poignant pieces. Maybe such thought out pieces, can only come from a lifestyle, that allowed  deep contemplation. Parting is all we know of heaven, and all we need of hell. Learn to be by yourself.

Elizabeth Cook – When we learnt about Capt. Cook at school, I never gave his wife a thought,  but when I read about her life, I was truely inspired. Through all adversity and sadness, love sustains and endures. Choose to love. Love unconditionally.

Helen Keller – Helen was locked in a dark and silent place, and with the help of Anne Sullivan her teacher, she became the person she was always meant to be. Be open to learn everyday, education should never stop.

Daisy Bates – We know this woman lived with the Australian aborigines, and championed their cause,  and is responsible for documenting much of the Aboriginal Customs, which would have been lost into the past, but she was so much more. Put others first.


Dian Fossey – This inspiring lady, gave so much to the world, and has inspired many. Her lesson is find something that you believe in and work at it with all your heart and might. Work at what you believe in, and belive in what your work at!

Rosa Parkes – Rosa decided Enough was enough and refused to give up her bus seat to a white, and sparked a court case and ensuing uproar that changed the world. Stand up for what you believe in, or sit down in this case! Stand up for what you believe in.

Dame Nellie Melba – Nellie was a woman who used her God given gifts to enrich the world. And wasn’t afraid to stretch the boundaries of the ‘female condition’ in her time. Use your Gifts.

Queen Victoria – This woman took a job few would envy at a very young age, and excelled at it, despite those closest to her not believing in her ability to carry it out. She showed them, and left her make on the world for all time. One of the things that this woman taught the world, is that we need to grieve. Strong grief comes from loving deeply, and is the price we pay. Victoria also taught us that it is not our lot to suffer in child birth. Her strength, spirit, quiet resolve inspires me always. Be not afraid to show your true feelings.

Emily Bronte – In her writing of Wuthering Heights, Emily gave the world one of its famous classic novels. Read the Classics.

Elizabeth Fry – Was a quaker woman in England, who visited and worked for improvement of the lives of the prisoners there. Help those who cannot help themselves.

Caroline Chisholm – For the ten years that Caroline Chisholm lived in Sydney, she met every ship that came into port. She saw that the women who came ashore, found meaningful employment, and helped to see that those that required it, were taught skills, to help them along in their new lives in a new land. Be Compassionate.

Harriet Beecher Stowe – Harriet wrote ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ and brought to the world attention and account of the plight and injustices, of slavery in America. A world changing book. Do what you can to right wrongs.

Ethel Florence Richardson – Pen name, Henry Handel Richardson,  gave us the novel The Getting of Wisdom, a classic in Australian Literature, among other famous novels was Maurice Guest and The fortunes of Richard Mahoney. Learn every day.

Miles Franklin – Her books ‘My Brilliant Career’ & ‘My Career Goes Bung’ teach a valuable life lesson.We should always have a plan, for the day, for the week and for life. Even if you don’t meticulously adhere to it, it protects you from rash decision and procrastination. Always have a plan.


Diana – Diana’s life cut short, was not an uncomplicated one, but she became a very strong woman, and a celebrity in her own right, despite the obstacles.  Be yourself.

Elizabeth MacarthurElizabeth Macarthur – Was the wife  of a difficult man. She rose above this and carried on the family interests and farm in his absences, making improvements and prospering. Let the true you, shine.

Charlotte Bronte – Jane Eyre, was one of Charlotte’s gifts to the world. A literary classic full of lessons for life. Read the Classics.

Florence Nightingale – Florence became a nurse, when it was not an occupation for ladies. The changes in nursing and hygeine she instigated have changed the face of the world. Leave everything a little better than you found it.

May Gibbs – May Gibbs’ imagination and creative ability have left the world with stories and  illustrations that are quint essentially Australian. Treasures forever. Take time to imagine.

Anne Bronte – Agnes Grey & The Tenant of Wildfeld Hall, more Classic Stories, that should be read and learnt from. Read the Classics.

Edna Walling – An inspired woman, born with an natural ability in design, whose abilities allowed her shape nature, not try to control it. Nuture Nature.

Louisa May Alcott – Author who brought the Classic, Little women, and taught us to treasure ourselves, and our differences. This book is a lesson in how siblings, raised in the same house, come out vastly different despite this. Treasure Your Individuality.

Mary Reiby – Mary came to Australia as a convict woman, married well, and proved to be an industrious and ambitious woman, who grasped the new opportunities offered to her. She continued to thrive after her husbands early death. Supporting her family. Thrive where you are planted.

Ethel Turner – The story of ‘Seven Little Australian’ taught me as a child, about the way of life in the early days of Australia, and sparked my interest to know more. Appreciate History.


Jane Austen – Janes’ stories are a collection of experiences of the human  condition. A study of relationships, written with a sense of humor, and the eye for detail. Read. Read. Read.

Sister Elizabeth Kenny – Despite many critics of her groundbreaking Polio rehabilitation regimes, She persisted and changed the outcomes of many lives. Work at what you believe in.

Mother Teresa – An Angel in disguise. There are angels among us. Look for  angels.

Dame Enid Lyons – She has been dubbed the most famous Australian woman of the 20th Century, her story is amazing. Her lesson is that It is possible to achieve what you wish for. One of the wonderful lessons I learnt as I read about this woman, is how much of an inspiration and how much she was admired by her children. Strive to be someone your children can look up to.

Enid Blyton – Enid Blyton’s stories have given, millions of children, millions of hours of enjoyment, including me. One thing her stories taught me was to use my imagination. I’m sure everyone who read ‘The Faraway Tree’ for instance has their own vision, the fairy lights still twinkle in mine. Use your imagination.

Jeannie Gunn – Mrs. Aeneus Gunn of ‘We of the Never Never’ fame, lived the rough outback life of many women in her time. She embraced it, and made the best out of it she could, and suffered much including the death of her husband. Be Brave. Embrace new experiences.

Anastasia – My fascination with this story, began at a young age, The story of the horror of her family’s fate, and the aftermath influenced me – showing me an immense sense of hope. Hope sustains us all, until there is none. Maintain Hope in your life.

Madame Curie – If you are as clever as this lady, who pioneered the use of radiation treatment of cancers, it would be a sin against the world to not use your gifts for its benefit. Use your gifts.

Laura Ingals Wilder – The stories of a life, of pioneering, struggles, family values, death and spirit, have influenced and inspired many a young girls life. Including mine. Tell your story.

Emily Pankhurst – This woman worked hard for what she believed in, and brought about such change. Fight for what you believe in.

Agatha Christie – A complex woman, with an incredible imagination, whose own life held its mysteries. I  enjoy  a good mystery.  Be mysterious.

Unknown Woman – The name this woman went by is unknown to me. Typing unknown woman into images on google, yielded several pictures of  women , and I chose this one. I wanted to put a picture of one unfamous woman here, to represent the everyday woman.

The woman who didn’t do anything brave, or courageous, or profound, that came to the attention of the wider world. This woman represents all the woman who did brave, courageous, and profound things everyday, anyway.

Women who loved and cared for their families, day- in  day-out… Mothers who’ve buried their children, …Women who suffered and have never known what it is to be able to have their own children,…Women who’ve borne children with disabilities… Women who waved loved ones  off to war, and waited in vain for their return… To All the women whose lives were filled with hard physical labour and very little comfort… To our Pioneering Mothers, whose lives involved travelling in discomfort for long journeys to unknown places, starting anew, having left loved ones, personal belongings and a simpler life behind…To all the women who have suffered much to the benefit of their families and loved ones, shed tears and gone on.   This is for you.

Penned by Rosalee Clark, November 2008