Helen Watson White
Kate Edger: The life of a pioneering feminist by Diana Morrow (Otago University Press, 2021), 276pp, $39.99
When Kate Edger (1857–1935) won a scholarship to enter university, her studies took the form of night classes in a building that was part of Auckland College and Grammar, described by the chairman of the local Education Board as ‘a disused military hut, the floor of which is not quite safe to tread on, the roof of which is open to the sky’.
Diana Morrow’s richly textured biography of Edger reveals how a few holes in the roof, like notions of male superiority and other forms of bigotry, were never going to deter this young woman from the journey she purposed through higher education and beyond. It is a tale of hopes nurtured, words wielded, values tenaciously held and obstacles overcome. Kate Edger was an unstoppable force, it seems—optimistic, prodigiously hardworking and deeply principled: an evangelical version of the ‘New Woman’, as the liberated female was called in the late nineteenth century. [Read more…]