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Isaacs, Lady Deborah (Daisy) (1870–1960)

Daisy Isaacs, with her husband, c1934

Daisy Isaacs, with her husband, c1934

State Library of New South Wales

Tall and dignified, with a winning manner, and a fund of commonsense, Lady Isaacs (wife of the first Australian Governor-General), should be a popular, chatelaine at Federal Government House.

She believes in romance, and what is more, she believes that it can last. Also, she believes in youthful marriages. Forty years ago, when she married Sir Isaac Isaacs she was a school girl of 17. 'I had just completed my education in England,' she remarked, when she was interviewed aboard the Otranto on Saturday, 'when I met my husband for the first time. Six weeks later we were engaged, and six weeks after that we were married. The trip from which I am just returning is the first time I have ever been away from him in all those years.'

Lady Isaacs is frankly proud of her race, and she is an outstanding example of a cultured and dignified Jewish woman, although she admits that she is by no means strictly orthodox in her observance. Born in Australia, she completed her education in England. Speaking French, German, and Italian fluently, she has a wide command of literature, and a good deal of her luggage, she said laughingly, consisted of new books, which she knew Sir Isaac would be glad to read. She is extremely fond of music also.

Wearing a simple navy blue silk frock and a broad-brimmed black hat, the new Governor-General's wife was strikingly well dressed without ostentation.

'Fashions are fascinating,' she said with a smile, but this was not the time to indulge in an orgy of shopping. Asked about her plans, she said that beyond the fact that she would have to transfer her home to Canberra she had made none. 'We must wait until we have seen Mr. Scullin,' she said. 'I hope to live up to the traditions of those ladies who have preceded me at Federal Government House, but the times will not permit of any extravagances. They would be an insult to the people of Australia. I have always done my own housekeeping, and I am still prepared to do it.'

Lady Isaacs has been aloof from politics for many years. She said a good deal of pressure was brought to bear upon her husband to take on the task of Governor-General, and she was glad that he would now be relieved from his arduous legal duties.

Her daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. David Cohen, have accompanied her on her present trip. Mrs. Sefton Cullen, who as Nancy Isaacs was her father's associate for some years, heard the news of the appointment when she was in Switzerland, and she wirelessed her congratulations to her mother. 'I was overwhelmed with similar messages,' she said.

It is a triumphal homecoming, but this tall, stately woman with the grey hair and the winning smile has not had her head turned. Balance and maturity of thought, and the ability to make a quick decision, are her outstanding attributes. She takes her new duties seriously.

'I shall be glad if I can do anything to help Australia,' she said simply, and, what is more, she meant it.

Lady Isaacs, who before her marriage was Miss Jacobs, said she had a special family link with Adelaide. The four daughters of Mr. and Mrs. S. J. Jacobs, of Glenelg, married her four brothers, and so not one of them changed her name.

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'Isaacs, Lady Deborah (Daisy) (1870–1960)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/isaacs-lady-deborah-daisy-14157/text31625, accessed 12 December 2019.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Daisy Isaacs, with her husband, c1934

Daisy Isaacs, with her husband, c1934

State Library of New South Wales

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Jacobs, Deborah
Birth

1870
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Death

17 June 1960
Bowral, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage
Religious Influence