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Brydon, Marianne Helena (1864–1941)

by Michael Marendy

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (MUP), 2005

Marianne Helena Brydon (1864-1941), educationist, was born on 19 May 1864 at Tynan, County Armagh, Ireland, eldest daughter of Rev. James Carson, Presbyterian minister, and his wife Marianna, née Coey. The family came to Queensland about 1868. At 13 Marianne began training as a pupil-teacher at Charters Towers State School, resigning in February 1878 to take up a state scholarship at Brisbane Girls' Grammar School. Having passed the University of Sydney junior (1879) and senior (1881) public examinations—on both occasions winning the Fairfax prize—in 1882 she began teaching at Miss Jardine's school in Wickham Terrace. She became a form mistress at Brisbane Girls' Grammar School in 1883. On 2 April 1885, at her father's house in South Brisbane, she married with Presbyterian forms Scottish-born shipping agent John McKenzie Brydon and left teaching.

Following her husband's death in July 1895, with five children to support, Mrs Brydon opened the South Brisbane High School and Kindergarten, a private school for girls. Appointed secretary and teacher of mathematics and science at South Brisbane Technical College in October 1903, within three years she was promoted to principal. She moved to the newly formed Central Technical College in Ann Street in 1909 as teacher of English, physics and French. From July 1912 supervisor of commercial and domestic science day classes, next year she became the first supervisor of the domestic science department, which in 1914 was transferred to a new building in George Street. The new facility prompted the establishment of a full-time domestic science day school, offering instruction for girls in cookery theory and practice, laundry-work and housewifery, ambulance and home nursing, domestic science, English and arithmetic. She was supervisor of women's work from 1916 and inspector of women's work from 1919.

Although the number of schools was steadily increasing it was difficult to provide domestic science classes in Queensland's remote areas. Brydon was convinced that this could be overcome with the use of domestic science railway carriages. Plans were drawn up in 1920 and in October 1923 the first car arrived at Roma Street. Two carriages served the northern part of the State. Shunted to a railway siding, each remained for up to seven weeks, with girls attending classes in cookery, dressmaking, housewifery, laundry-work and needlework.

Brydon influenced other developments in domestic science education in her time. Syllabuses were revised in the early 1920s, new textbooks adopted, salaries increased and the first domestic science junior examination was held at the school. In 1924 she visited institutions in Sydney and Melbourne which offered instruction in housecraft subjects. Two years later Queensland introduced a three-year domestic science and art diploma.

In addition to her professional commitments, Brydon was a committee-member of the Brisbane School of Arts from 1911 to 1927. She was the first vice-president of the Brisbane Girls' Grammar School Old Girls' Association and served as treasurer for eleven years on the standing committee of the Women's College, University of Queensland. Due to health problems, she took extended leave on full pay in March 1928 and spent time in Britain and Canada. After retiring in 1932 she lived at Redcliffe and participated in philanthropic and church affairs. Two sons and a daughter served in World War I: the elder, Kenneth, was killed in Flanders in 1917; the daughter Jean was appointed associate, Royal Red Cross (1919). Marianne Brydon died in Brisbane Hospital on 17 November 1941 and was cremated with Presbyterian forms. Her three daughters and one son survived her.

Select Bibliography

  • G. Logan, A Centenary History of Home Economics Education in Queensland 1881-1981 (Brisb, 1982)
  • Educational Historian, vol 3, 1988, p 3
  • Queenslander, 20 Oct 1923, p 6
  • Brisbane Courier, 27 Aug 1932, p 22
  • Telegraph (Brisbane), 17 Nov 1941
  • student file (Brisbane Girls’ Grammar School archives).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Michael Marendy, 'Brydon, Marianne Helena (1864–1941)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.online.anu.edu.au/biography/brydon-marianne-helena-12823/text23149, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 26 September 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (MUP), 2005

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