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Florence Amy (Helen) Hambly (1910–1991)

This article was published:

Helen Hambly, n.d.

Helen Hambly, n.d.

Florence Amy (Helen) Hambly née Edwards  (1910-1991) 

Birth: 29 September 1910 at Paddington, Sydney, New South Wales, daughter of native-born parents Sydney Edward Edwards (1886-1956), Catholic labourer, and Elizabeth Mary, née Lelliot (1892-1925). Marriage: 1934 in Chatswood, NSW, to native-born Sydney Lloyd Hambly (1904-1989), grocer. They had one daughter and one son. The marriage ended in divorce. Death: 18 April 1991 in Sydney Hospital; usual residence Stanley Street, Sydney. 

  • Despite a wealthy family background — her grandfather was the proprietor of a prosperous Woollahra produce store — she was brought up in poverty when her mother was disowned by her father for marrying a Catholic labourer who worked in the store.
  • Mother died when Helen was aged fifteen. She worked selling door to door and as a domestic servant, then established a real estate agency at Five Dock. Active in local government in Lane Cove.
  • Brother established 'Harry's Cafe de Wheels', Woolloomooloo.
  • In 1941 she joined the Union of Australian Women (UAW) and Communist Party of Australia. Active in Aboriginal rights and support groups, becoming aware of the issue through her involvement with UAW, involving herself with Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship in 1956, placing her small car at the disposal of this group for rural research trips.
  • With Roland Robinson she travelled around New South Wales to gather information on Aboriginal conditions, also working with South Coast Trades and Labor Council delegate Joe Howe in appraising working/living conditions of Koori seasonal workers picking beans and beans on the South Coast.
  • Active in Coonamble and other New South Wales towns in ongoing campaigns against segregation, 1960s.
  • Joined Australia-China Society, left CPA after Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 to throw herself into pro-China causes. Secretary of Australia-China Society in 1970s, and then executive member; facilitated 'Friendship Centre' at Trades Hall and liaised with Chinese Consulate.
  • 1988 active in Sydney 'People's History Group'.
  • 'Always an activist' for whom 'the People's Republic of China ... remained a beacon'.
  • Cause of death: aspiration pneumonia, renal failure and pharyngeal pouch.

Australia China Fellowship Newsletter
, June 1991; Heather Goodall, Invasion to Embassy, (Sydney, 1996).

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'Hambly, Florence Amy (Helen) (1910–1991)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 22 July 2024.

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