Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

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Allan, Stella (1871 - 1962)

25 October 1871
Kaiapoi, South Island, New Zealand
1 March 1962
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Community advocate, Journalist, Print Journalist and Women's rights activist
Alternative Names
  • Henderson, Stella (maiden name)
  • Vesta (pen name)


Born and educated in New Zealand, Stella Allan came to Australia in 1903 when her husband was invited to join the staff of the Melbourne Argus. An intelligent, well spoken woman with a keen interest in women's affairs, she was a very important figure in the establishment and management of a number of women's oganisations.

In 1907 the Argus commissioned her to write a series of articles on the first Australian Women's Work Exhibition held in October. They aroused much interest and next year the Argus invited her to join its full-time staff and begin a weekly section on the particular interests of women. She adopted the nom de plume 'Vesta' and called the column 'Women to Women'. Her work was unique in an Australian daily paper at that time. Her pages extended to cover every aspect of women's affairs, children's interests and community welfare, and 'Vesta' became a household word for authoritative information and advice on such matters. In 1910 she was one of three women foundation members of the Australian Journalists' Association.


After arriving In Melbourne the Allans soon joined a large group of stimulating intellectuals. Alfred Deakin and his wife Pattie were close friends and the two women had a mutual interest in social welfare and women's affairs. Stella Allan continued writing for newspapers and joined the Women Writers' Club, succeeding Ada Cambridge as president. In 1912 she was a foundation member and later president of the Lyceum Club.

She was an original committee-member of the Victorian Association of Crèches and of the Free Kindergarten Union of Victoria, and had much to do with the early days of the Victorian Bush Nursing Association, the Baby Health Centres Association and the Queen Victoria Hospital. She was a member of the National Council of Women, first in New Zealand and then in Melbourne, and of the Country Women's Association from its inception.

A meeting held in the Melbourne Town Hall in 1938 by representatives of all the main Victorian women's organizations paid special tribute to her work and influence.


c. 1890 - c. 1940
Career in journalism active

Sources used to compile this entry: Keep, Patricia, 'Allan, Stella May (1871-1962)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006,; Radi, Heather (ed.), 200 Australian Women: A Redress Anthology, Women's Redress Press, Sydney, 1988, 258 pp. Also available at

Related entries

Foundation member

Archival resources

National Library of Australia, Manuscript Section

  • Papers of Stella Allan 1907, 1907, NLA MS 562; Allan, Stella (1871 - 1962); National Library of Australia, Manuscript Section. Details

Barbara Lemon and Nikki Henningham

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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ISSN 2207-3124