- 23 December 1869
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
- 2 February 1950
Castlecrag, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
- Birth Control Advocate, Eugenicist and Sex Reformer
- Alternative Names
- Lois (pen name)
- O'Reilly, Marion Louisa (birth name)
Marion Piddington was a significant figure in early twentieth century eugenic debate in Australia. She took an interest in a wide range of sexual and reproductive concerns, and in the growth of sex education and contraceptive information, and was involed in the establishement of Racial Hygiene Association of New South Wales in 1926. After falling out with that organisation, she formed a rival organization, the Institute of Family Relations, in 1931.
Profoundly influenced by the work of Marie Stopes, she argued for a lifting of the stigma from unmarried motherhood in her 1923 pamphlet The Unmarried Mother and Her Child. In the early 1920s she was involved in the Workers' Educational Association eugenics circle, and delivered sex education lectures encouraging parents to be frank with their children on matters sexual. She believed in the right of women to sexual fulfilment in the context of marriage.
Piddignton belonged to that branch of eugenic thought which came to support birth control, as a means of controlling human reproduction and thus achieving human betterment. She wrote in the late 1920s and early 1930s for Smith's Weekly and such journals as Herself and Health and Physical Culture on sex education and sexual morality, as well as on the need to sterilize the mentally deficient, a classic eugenist concern.
Sources used to compile this entry: Curthoys, Ann, 'Piddington, Marion Louisa (1869-1951)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A110231b.htm; Daniels, Kay, Murnane, Mary, Picot, Anne and National Research Program (Australia) (eds), Women in Australia : an annotated guide to records, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1977.