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Lucinda Gullett: the mother of Australian women journalists.

In 1872 at Williamstown, Victoria Lucinda (Lucy) Willie had married her cousin, Henry Gullett, recently appointed editor of the Australasian. She probably began writing for the paper soon after the her marriage and she later adopted the name 'Humming Bee' for her contributions. She is known to have been responsible for 'The Lady's Column' from 1880. She was a competent writer and her columns, although similar in content to other early women's columns, were much more readable.

Lucy Gullett continued to work for the Australasian until 1885. In that year the family moved to Sydney where Henry Gullett became joint editor of the Daily Telegraph in which he had bought an interest. In Sydney Lucy Gullett continued the work she had done in Melbourne writing for the Daily Telegraph still under her pseudonym, 'Humming Bee'. She also played a public role as a journalist, encouraging other women to take up journalism as a career, and her home became a meeting place for intellectuals. One of her protegees was Zara Aronson, who became social editor of the Sydney Mail after the death of Mrs Carl Fischer.

When Henry left the Daily Telegraph in 1890, following disagreement on policy, and became associate editor of the Sydney Morning Herald (later acting editor), Lucinda Gullett left the Daily Telegraph also and during the early 1890s wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald. Her place as 'Humming Bee' at the Daily Telegraph was taken by Mary Cameron, mother of Mary Gilmore. As in other women's pages, the most valued contribution by 'Humming Bee' was a column replying to readers' queries on a great range of topics.

In the 1890s at least two other women joined the Daily Telegraph. Susan D'Archy who had grown up on an out back station was in charge of the social and fashion columns for some years. She later wrote for several newspapers including the Maitland Mercury, and was a contributor to a Paris newspaper. The other woman social reporter was Eliza Ann Ashton, wife of the painter Julian Ashton. She was a feminist with literary and musical interests and had created a furore when she expressed critical views on marriage. She was a member of the Womanhood Suffrage League of New South Wales and a committee member of the Women's Literary Society. When she died in 1900 aged less than fifty, Louisa Lawson wrote that her death left a terrible gap in the literary world.

After Lucinda Gullett retired from journalism she was prominent in many philanthropic movements in Sydney until her death after a short illness in June 1900. The Sydney Morning Herald described her as 'one of the pioneer women journalists' and the Newcastle Morning Herald said:
 Mrs. Gullett used to do 'ladies stuff' on her husband's paper in
 Melbourne, but her best known work is that which she contributed
 for so long, week after week, to the columns of the Sydney morning
 daily. This was a few years ago, when the 'women's page' in the
 broad sheet referred to was one of the features of contemporary

One of Lucy and Henry Gullett's four daughters, married Thomas Henry, Henry Gullett's successor as editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.

When Lucinda Gullett moved to Sydney in 1885 her column at the Australiasian was taken over by Mrs Carrington wife of Tom Carrington the paper's art editor, who wrote under the name of 'Queen Bee'. During the editorship of David Watterston from 1885 to 1903 Mrs Carrington developed the 'Lady's Page' into a section. * It appears to have become the most effective of the women's pages in attracting advertising, almost all of the first page being taken up with advertisements. Attracting advertising revenue would have been an important factor in deciding to include women's material in newspapers and periodicals.
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Author:Clarke, Patricia
Publication:M A R G I N: life & letters in early Australia
Date:Apr 1, 2006
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