‘A key person internationally’: towards a biography of Freda Brown
Milner, L 2016, '‘A key person internationally’: towards a biography of Freda Brown', Lilith, vol.22, pp. 21-36.
A woman whose story and achievements are substantially lost to history, Freda Brown (1919–2009) was a political activist in the women’s, peace, and anti-apartheid movements, both in Australia and overseas. After beginning her career in Australian left-wing and women’s organisations, Freda crossed the globe for twenty-five years, working as the leader of a worldwide organisation of two hundred million members. While some of her greatest achievements can be seen in her work in helping to establish and lead pioneering women’s organisations, she travelled widely also in the service of political, peace and anti-racism causes. She placed a great deal of importance on her work in intersecting networks of activists across Australia and the world. Together with casting Freda Brown’s story from her own words, recollections of colleagues, and archival research, this article also investigates the importance of networking for Freda. It explores questions around the biographer’s task in piecing together a life story, and issues of memory and biography.