Polly Plum: A firm and earnest woman’s advocate: Mary Ann Colclough 1836–1885 by Jenny Coleman (Otago University Press, 2017), 296 pp., $39.95
Polly Plum was the nom de plume of Mary Ann Colclough – née Barnes – who lived and worked in Auckland and Melbourne during the period of first-wave feminism. Author Jenny Coleman suggests that her largely unknown subject’s contribution to the women’s movement, as well as to girls’ education and to countless individual women and girls, was at least equal to that of Kate Sheppard.
An article published fifteen years after her death claimed Mary Ann ‘went down to her grave a blighted woman’. Certainly her life, as Coleman recounts it, wasn’t easy: it included personal loss, public opprobrium, bankruptcy (through no fault of her own) and ill-health. She was dead by 49. [Read more…]