Maybanke Susannah Anderson

Maybanke Susannah Anderson (nee Selfe) (1845-1927), feminist, teacher, social reformer and local historian, came to Sydney from England in 1855. In 1884, deserted by her husband, she created Maybanke College, a successful school. She was a leader in the Womanhood Suffrage League, a member of the Women’s Literary Society, a founder of the Australasian Home Reading Union, and published her own paper, Woman’s Voice. In 1895 she helped to set up the first free kindergarten at Woolloomooloo. She was influential in the movement to enfranchise women in the Commonwealth constitution.

When she married Professor Francis Anderson in 1899, she expanded into university activities such as the University Women’s Society. In the National Council of Women of NSW, she advocated the right of women to be elected to local councils. Together they reformed education from kindergarten to teacher training, the Workers’ Educational Association, and children’s playgrounds in inner-city areas.

Maybanke died on 15 April 1927 in Paris.

Maybanke is remembered at the Maybanke Kindergarten in Harris Street, Pyrmont, and elsewhere in Sydney. At the peak of her influence, the Sydney Morning Herald described her as “about the most intellectual woman in Australia.”

Further Reading

  • Jan Roberts, Maybanke Anderson: sex, suffrage & social reform