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Stuart, Florence Rhoda (c. 1872 - 1932)

c. 1872
Journalist and Political activist
Alternative Names
  • Adohr
  • Collings, Florence Rhoda
  • Hypatia


Florence Stuart wrote regular columns for the Westralian Worker under the pseudonyms of 'Hypatia' and 'Adohr'. The Westralian Worker was published in Kalgoorlie from 1900 - 1912.


Florence Collings was born in Brighton, England, the child of Quaker parents, c.1872. She moved to Queensland with her parents in 1883.

She was a committed socialist and an accomplished singer who performed at the opening of the Brisbane Trades Hall.

She married Julian Stuart soon after his release from imprisonment for his part in organizing the 1891 shearers' strike and they moved to the eastern goldfields of Western Australia in the late 1890s.

A political activist, she helped to organize the Eastern Goldfields Women's Labour League and was elected secretary to the first Western Australian Labor Women's Conference in 1912. Under the pseudonym 'Hypatia", Florence wrote fierce columns on socialist, feminist and labour issues in the Westralian Worker (December 1904-April 1906, August 1907-February 1908, and July 1911-September 1911). She exhorted all socialists to raise their children to be class conscious. She damned those Labor Parliamentarians for attending government house functions in frock coats and top hats, 'I am sick and tired of finding excuses for the average labor member's want of backbone and dignity', and for forgetting that their first loyalty should be to the workers who had turned out to elect them. She was equally hostile to those workers who wasted their time on sport, in gambling on dogs and horses and in reading 'trashy literature'.

On other occasions she reflected on the working conditions of meat packers in Chicago and of local bar-maids. She fiercely rebuked anyone who purchased any article at all - even an ice cream - from an Asian person and warned those who had cheered the victory of Japan over Russia that they would live to regret their attitude.

Florence admired the honesty of 'Guido Fawkes' (Guy Fawkes) and the sober example of Paul Kruger, President of the Boer Republic.

When she left the goldfields to live in the seaside suburb of Cottesloe, she applied her verbal scourge to the 'ladies' whom she encountered on train rides to Fremantle. She condemned the action of labor men who supported Australia's involvement in WW I as a 'shuddering blasphemy'.

Florence raised five children and died in 1932.

Sources used to compile this entry: Black, David and Bolton, Geoffrey; assisted by Mozley, Ann and Simpson, Patricia (eds), Biographical register of members of the Parliament of Western Australia, vol. 1, Western Australian Parliamentary History Project, Perth, [W.A.], 1870 - 1930; Criena Fitzgerald and National Foundation for Australian Women, Karlkurla Gold: A History of the Women of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Australian Women's Archives Project, December 2012,; 'Stuart (nee Collings), Rhoda Florence (c.1872-1932)', in Working Lives. Biographical Register,; Hypatia, Westralian Worker, December 1904; Hypatia, Westralian Worker, August 1907; Hypatia, Westralian Worker, July 1911.

Andrew Gill

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