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Lawrence, Marjorie Florence (1909 - 1979)


17 February 1909
Dean's Marsh, Victoria, Australia
14 January 1979
Singer and Soprano


Opera singer Marjorie Lawrence contracted poliomyelitis in 1941 and was almost crippled in both legs, but continued to perform using a wheel chair placed on stage. During World War II she entertained the troops and was awarded the cross of the Legion d' Honneur (1946) by the French government. On 31 December 1976 Marjorie Lawrence was appointed Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to the performing arts.



Winner of the Sun Aria Competition
Performed with the Paris Grand Opera Company as Ortrud in Lohengrin
Debut with Monte Carlo Opera Company as Elisabeth in Tannhauser
Performed with the Metropolitan Opera Company New York as Brunnhilde
Completed a concert tour of Australia, performing at Winchelsea, Victoria first
Contracted poliomyelitis while in Mexico
29 March 1941
Married Dr Thomas King, New York
First public appearance as Venus in Tannhauser at the Metropolitan
Entertained troops in Australia and South West Pacific (50,000 miles wheel concert tour)
Entertained troops in Europe
1960 -
Professor of Voice and Opera Workshop, Southern Illinois University
Opera Theatre Southern Illinois University named for Marjorie Lawrence

Sources used to compile this entry: Arnold, John and Morris, Deirdre (eds), Monash Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Australia, Reed Reference Publishing, Port Melbourne (Vic.), 1994, 568 pp; Dugan, Michael and Gunter, Anne, Women Make Australian History : Women in Wartime 1914-1918, 1939-1945, Macmillan, South Melbourne, 1996, 32 pp; Griffin, Helga M., 'Lawrence, Marjorie Florence (1907 - 1979)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 2006,; Legge, J S (ed.), Who's Who in Australia, 1971, 20 edn, The Herald and Weekly Times, Melbourne, 1971, 1024 pp.

Related entries

Related Women

  • Kenny, Elizabeth (1880 - 1952)

    Marjorie Lawrence used the treatment developed by Sister Elizabeth Kenny when the former contracted poliomyelitis in 1941

Archival resources

National Library of Australia

  • Great Australian women of the 20th century [electronic resource], Nmt 2843; National Library of Australia. Details

National Library of Australia, Manuscript Collection

  • Papers of Marjorie Lawrence, 1938-1968 [manuscript], 1938 - 1968, MS 7225; Lawrence, Marjorie Florence (1909 - 1979); National Library of Australia, Manuscript Collection. Details

Anne Heywood

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

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

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