Today is Mary Lee's birthday. Who was Mary Lee?

There is a small Church cemetery just outside Adelaide which contains a neglected headstone in memory of Mary Lee.

While it was celebrated in the newspapers and the ceremonies of the 1890s, for most of this century Mary's work to gain women the vote has been hidden history - forgotten like her headstone.

I first became aware of her through the work of South Australian historian Helen Jones. Mary came across as a hero- energetic, determined, and absolutely committed to her goal whatever the setbacks. I wanted others, and especially you, the students of today, to understand what she achieved, along with other women, one hundred years ago. I applied to the Commonwealth Minister for the Arts and Territories for a grant to produce this book in 1992. I accepted it as a member of the Women's Suffrage Centenary History Sub-Committee which has played an important role in planning for this special suffrage centenary year of 1994.

Mary Lee deserves words, which are so much more powerful than statues and headstones. Elizabeth Mansutti who was commissioned to write this book and who is first and foremost a poet, lyricist and storyteller, has woven a story for us all that captures Mary's spirit and concern for those without the power to be heard.

So now you too will know the answer to the question - who was Mary Lee?

Elizabeth Ho
14 February 1994