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Muriel Edith Farr (1881–1968)

by Chris Cunneen

Muriel Farr, by W. S. Smith, 1904

Muriel Farr, by W. S. Smith, 1904

Adelaide Observer, 31 December 1904, p 24

Muriel Edith Farr (1881-1968) conservative political organiser and journalist

Birth: 11 August 1881 in North Adelaide, South Australia, daughter of native-born parents George Alexander Farr (1855-1903), solicitor, and Mary Christina Blackmore. Never married. Death: 11 June 1968 at Walkerville, SA. Religion: Anglican. 

  • Muriel’s grandfather George Henry Farr (1819-1904), Anglican archdeacon and headmaster of St Peter’s College, Adelaide, was born in Tottenham, Middlesex, England.
  • She was educated at Tormore House school, graduating in November 1899 and becoming president of its Old Scholars’ Association.
  • In November 1905 Muriel Farr was appointed “lady organizer” of the Australasian National League to campaign among women voters in federal and State elections. From 1907 she was also general secretary of the women’s branch of the ANL of South Australia, [later the Women’s Liberal Organisation], becoming a practised “anti-socialist” political advocate and a delegate to the national women’s conferences of the league throughout Australia. A Labor politician observed that she was “worth her weight in gold to any political party”. According to a profile by ‘Anne Cornstalk’ in Lone Hand: ‘Graceful and dainty, essentially womanly, and with a charm of her own, she holds her audiences by the magnetism of her personality as well as by her straight-forward eloquence. On the platform, few Australian women can rival her.”
  • She also began contributing articles and book reviews to the press in Adelaide, Melbourne and in England. In December 1913 she reduced her lecturing and organising to devote more time to literary work and resigned from the Liberal Union in June 1915. However, she continued public activity as an honorary secretary of the League of Loyal Women of Australia — motto “For God and the Empire” — which supported existing charities and raised funds to provide comforts for men in trenches. She was also a member of the committee of the South Australian division of the Australian Comforts Fund.
  • Was a prominent speaker and organiser in the ‘Yes’ referendum campaigns in 1916 and 1917 and vigorously participated in recruitment drives and war loan demonstrations criticising “women slackers as well as men slackers”. For her patriotic efforts she was appointed OBE in October 1918.
  • After the war she joined a group agitating for the formation of an organisation of loyal and patriotic people, the Australian Imperial Association, and was active in support of a women’s memorial to fallen South Australian soldiers. She also supported the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and other worthy causes and in 1919 was an assessor for the employers in an Industrial Court inquiry by Jethro Brown into a basic wage for women workers. The League of Loyal Women continued post-war and Farr was involved in its Domestic Economy branch, aiming to solve the “domestic service problem”. Other institutions she graced included the Australian League of Nations Union, and the Victoria League
  • From January 1921 to February 1922 she visited Great Britain. On her return she continued her regular journalism in the Adelaide Register. Participating in the Adelaide social round within the Government House set, she supplemented her earnings from occasional journalism by selling shipments of hats novelties, gifts etc. that she had imported.
  • Following the death of her mother in May 1928 Farr again visited England and from June 1931 lived in Perth, where she opened a café, ‘Toby’s Kitchen’ under the Commercial Travellers’ Club before returning to England in January 1932. In 1947 she went home to Adelaide.
  • In 1957 she compiled Origins of the Liberal and Country League of South Australia (Griffin Press, Adelaide).
  • Cause of death: congestive cardiac failure, progressive pernicious anaemia, mitral stenosis and coronary sclerosis.

Additional Resources

Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Farr, Muriel Edith (1881–1968)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/farr-muriel-edith-33439/text41810, accessed 21 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Muriel Farr, by W. S. Smith, 1904

Muriel Farr, by W. S. Smith, 1904

Adelaide Observer, 31 December 1904, p 24

Life Summary [details]

Birth

11 August, 1881
North Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Death

11 June, 1968 (aged 86)
Walkerville, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Education
Occupation
Awards
Key Organisations
Political Activism