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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Green(e), Anne Eliza (1869–1954)

by K. G. T. Waller

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

This is a shared entry with Alice Jane Green(e)

Alice Jane Green(e) (1863-1966), headmistress, and Anne Eliza Green(e) (1869-1954), artist, were born on 26 July 1863 and 27 September 1869 at Bridport, Dorset, England, second and fifth of eleven children of John Ily Green, master carpenter, and his wife Ellen Webber, née Greenham. Devoutly Methodist, the family later moved to Cardiff, Wales, where most of the children were educated. Alice qualified at the London Day Training College and taught at a large secondary school in Wales. Anne studied at the Battersea Training School, London, before they both emigrated to Queensland in 1892 with other members of the family to join their father who had preceded them three years earlier. Alice was appointed to the staff of Rockhampton Girls' Grammar School; in 1895 she and Anne established a private school at Tenterfield, New South Wales. In January 1901 they founded the Moreton Bay High School for Girls, at Wynnum, Brisbane; their father had designed and built the three-storey wooden premises overlooking the bay.

While she was teaching at the school, Anne pursued her career as an artist. She studied at Brisbane Technical College under Godfrey Rivers and in 1911 travelled to England. In London she attended the South Kensington Art School, and was awarded a prize for still life, a diploma and a medal by the Royal Society of Arts. In 1912 she visited Paris where she met Emile Jacques-Dalcroze, founder of a pedagogic system of eurhythmics. After her return, Moreton Bay schoolgirls gave a public display of eurhythmics in the presence of the governor Sir Matthew Nathan.

Back in Paris in 1924, Anne established her own studio, and became an associate-member (1924) and member (1928) of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. She exhibited regularly at the Petit Salon, and at the New Salon from 1921 until 1939. Her work was given some prominence and bought by collectors. Like her close friend Bessie Gibson, she often painted in the Impressionist manner. Anne spent World War II in England, setting up a studio at Southampton and exhibiting at the Royal Academy. Ill health forced her to return to Queensland in 1946. Better known in France and, to a lesser extent, in Britain, she held her first Australian exhibition at Finney's Art Gallery, Brisbane, in 1950. She died on 2 July 1954 at Wynnum and was buried in Bulimba cemetery. Her work is held by the Queensland Art Gallery, and is represented in major institutional and private collections.

From 1901 Alice had been headmistress of Moreton Bay High, a select secondary school, fully-owned and ultimately operated by the Greene sisters who had added a final e to their surname. Initially accepting no more than thirty pupils, they provided education for the daughters of country families and missionaries, and took a few day-girls. A kindergarten and primary section were added later. Boarders might be as young as 5 or 6, and many returned home only for Christmas. In 1910 a new wing, including a library, was built. Following Anne's departure in 1911, three other sisters joined the staff. Moreton Bay High claimed to have one of the first music schools in Queensland—housed in a separate building; it was directed by Hilda, a piano teacher, who held a licentiate (1909) from the Royal Academy of Music, London, and was an associate-member of the Royal College of Music. Elsie Greene taught French and mathematics; when Alice retired in December 1943, Elsie was appointed acting principal. Helah managed the domestic arrangements, and taught violin and cello. Instruction was pursued with initiative and openness to advanced methods, but, as far as Alice was concerned, 'it was the business of every girl to aim for correct vowel sound'.

The Greene family was prominent in Wynnum and Brisbane society. Two brothers, Samuel and John, were mayors of Wynnum, the former in 1913 and 1917, the latter in 1922. Samuel was an alderman (1938-41) and John was lord mayor (1931-34) of Greater Brisbane City Council. Alice belonged to numerous committees and worthy organizations, and was instrumental in founding a local ladies' swimming club. In 1945 the school was presented to the Methodist Church and subsequently incorporated (as Moreton Bay College) in the Presbyterian and Methodist Schools Association. 'Strong, loving and gracious', Alice died on 8 January 1966 at Wynnum and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • Wynnum Jubilee Celebrations Souvenir (no date)
  • Wynnum District Chamber of Commerce, Back to Wynnum (Wynnum, Qld, 1933)
  • J. A. Watts, Exhibition of Pictures in Oils by Anne Alison Greene, catalogue (Brisb, 1950)
  • V. Lahey, Art in Queensland, 1859-1959 (Brisb, 1959)
  • Queensland Art Gallery, Five Queensland Women Artists, exhibition catalogue (Brisb, 1975)
  • C. Ambrus, The Ladies' Picture Show (Syd, 1984)
  • B. Larner and F. Considine, A Complimentary Caste, exhibition catalogue, Centre Gallery, Surfers Paradise, Queensland (Surfers Paradise, 1988)
  • Moreton Bay College (Wynnum, Brisb), Old Moretonian, 1967
  • Queenslander, 18 June 1921
  • Brisbane Courier, 2 July 1927
  • A. J. A. Greene, The Founders Speak, no 6 (transcript of radio broadcast on 4QR, 11 Dec 1945, held by State Library of Queensland).

Citation details

K. G. T. Waller, 'Green(e), Anne Eliza (1869–1954)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 10 August 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2020

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Greene, Anne

27 September 1869
Bridport, Dorset, England


2 July 1954
Wynnum, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Cultural Heritage
Religious Influence