Wielding her pen like a sword: Mary Bennett's war against the Australian state

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Abstract

Mary Montgomerie Bennett (1881-1961) has been called many things: benefactor, biographer, indigenous culture recorder, indigenous rights activist, pamphleteer and schoolteacher. While these descriptions neatly encapsulate her core contributions, there is one descriptor missing from the list that was arguably the defining characteristic of her life and life's work. Above all else Mary Bennett was a writer. She was certainly a biographer, having written her father's biography in 1927. Pamphleteer also encapsulates the nature of her writing, which was thoroughly political, in pursuit of a cause and for the purpose of broadcasting her views. She was also an epistolographer whose extensive letters were both acts of resistance and self-definition. This article explores the significance of writing to Bennett's life and work, and shows how her pen was not just a means of publicising her views and the 'wrongs of the Aborigines' but was a weapon she wielded in her war with the Australian state in defence of the same.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-51
Number of pages15
JournalLilith
Volume22
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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