So Hard the Conquering: A Life of Irene Longman
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This biography of Irene Longman is the story of a remarkable woman. A woman of integrity, intelligence, courage and compassion. It is also the story about the period in which she lived and how her life was inevitably interwoven with the lives of others and with the social structure and culture of the times. What made Irene Longman unique was that she became the first woman to sit in the Queensland Parliament. Irene Longman was elected to the Queensland Parliament in 1929, defeating the sitting Labor member in Bulimba. She was nominated by the Queensland Women’s Electoral League and endorsed by the Country Progressive National Party, but held the seat for only one term as Labor swept back into power in 1932. Longman’s career in the Moore government coincided with a brief interruption of continuous Labor rule in Queensland (1915-1957). No other woman was elected to State Parliament in Queensland until after Irene Longman’s death in 1964 at the age of 87. Though her parliamentary career was short, Irene Longman was active in public life for over thirty years. This thesis brings to light her early childhood in Tasmania, her education and development while living in Sydney and will describe her career and the associational networks which shaped her political ideas. In 1904 at Toowoomba, Irene married Heber Longman and they made Queensland their permanent home. Although this study investigates a particular historical period in Australia, a wider account of Queensland life is incorporated to give a political context to Irene Longman’s experiences in the decades after Federation. Irene Longman was involved in a wide range of social issues including town planning and the preservation of flora and fauna. But her professional and voluntary work was principally in the field of the welfare of women and children. Therefore, this thesis is not only a historical study but it also examines other discourses related to Irene Longman’s experience and interest, such as feminism and women’s reproductive function. I consider how the strength of maternal citizenship influences the way women lived their lives and understood their positions in the world.
Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
School of Humanities
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