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Writer tells tales of heroic Aussie women

29 OCTOBER 2003

Distinguished writer and art historian Susanna de Vries will chart the heroic contributions of three relatively unknown Australian women at a free public lecture at the National Museum this weekend.

Ms de Vries AO, prolific writer on the lives of Australian women, will speak in the Museum's Celebrating Australians lecture series, on Sunday, 2 November from 1 to 2pm in the SAS Visions Theatre.

Her lecture entitled Devotion is inspired by three Australian women:

Joice Loch, the subject of Ms de Vries's book Blue Ribbons, Bitter Bread, helped thousands of refugees, raising funds through her writing. She led a mass escape from the Nazis of Polish and Jewish children to Israel. Her work with Greek refugees fleeing after the Smyrna massacre in 1922 is commemorated in a museum near Thessaloniki.

Annette Kellerman overcame childhood poverty and polio early in the 20th century to become a speed and marathon swimmer, a vaudeville performer, an actress, and author of books on swimming, health and beauty. Kellerman was known as "Neptune's Daughter" the title of a 1914 Australian silent film in which she starred.

Miles Franklin was renowned for her writing and the writing prize which bears her name, but was less well known for her bravery as a World War I nurse in an all-female hospital in northern Greece.

Susanna de Vries is the author of The Complete Book of Great Australian Women, as well as the Great Australian Women paperback series, and a further series of illustrated books about Australian women. She has recently returned from Greece where she discussed the filming of the Joice Loch book Blue Ribbons, Bitter Bread.

Ms de Vries will be signing copies of her books after her lecture.

Earlier speakers in the Celebrating Australians lecture series inspired by the Museum's Eternity Gallery have included the poet Les Murray and the inventor of the bionic ear, Dr Graeme Clarke.

For more information, please contact Public Affairs Director Martin Portus on (02) 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or m.portus@nma.gov.au .