This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996
Marie Langley Farquharson (1883-1954), schoolteacher, journalist and community worker, was born on 15 February 1883 at Manly, Sydney, second of eight children of native-born parents Robert John Hinder, schoolteacher, and his wife Sarah Florence, née Mills. Marie grew up at Maitland where her father was headmaster of East Maitland Boys' High School. His residence was also home to fifteen boarders; Sarah ran her large household with 'regularity, care and exactness'. Marie's younger sister Eleanor Hinder believed that their mother's orderly approach to her responsibilities encouraged her daughters to develop an ability to organize efficiently their time and resources; it was to serve them well.
Educated at West Maitland Girls' High School, Marie became a pupil-teacher at West Maitland Superior Public School in 1900, attended Hurlstone Training College on a full scholarship in 1905, then returned to West Maitland. From January 1907 she taught in Sydney at the Riley Street Kindergarten, Surry Hills, a poor, working-class suburb. On 17 June 1911 at her father's school she married with Presbyterian forms John Gordon Farquharson (d.1954), an accountant. While living at Lismore, she bore two daughters, Sheila (b.1914) and Rona (b.1916). In 1914 she organized and became the first secretary of the local branch of the British Red Cross Society. On her return to Sydney in 1923, she worked as city correspondent for a group of country newspapers.
Becoming interested in the work of the National Council of Women of New South Wales, she met Mildred Muscio through Eleanor. During her long association with the council, Mrs Farquharson held the honorary positions of interstate secretary (1925-26), State secretary (1926-32, 1940-41, 1953-54), international secretary (1928-40) and life vice-president (1946); she was also international secretary for Australia (from 1943). She was appointed to the advisory committee of the Unemployment Relief Council in 1930 and, through the N.C.W., ran a sewing-depot for unemployed women. In 1936-38 she was honorary secretary of the Women's Advisory Council and of the Women's Executive Committee for Australia's 150th Anniversary Celebrations. Joint foundation honorary secretary (1939) and president (by 1940) of the Women's Voluntary Services, she was an executive-member of the Australian Comforts Fund; in World War II she worked full time, co-ordinating teams of volunteers; in 1945 she was supervisor of the comforts depot. She was a founder and deputy-president of the Far West Children's Health Scheme and a member of the Sydney University Settlement's supervised playgrounds committee.
'Beautiful and vivacious as a girl', Marie continued to take pride in her appearance and dressed smartly in well-cut clothes. Her sister Eleanor described her as 'valiant', and noted 'she shared her problems and concerns with no one. She lived her own life in a very special way, reserving the time when the family was in bed for her own reading and thinking'. Survived by her daughters, Marie died on 29 December 1954 at her Neutral Bay home and was cremated with Methodist forms.
Lyn Brignell, 'Farquharson, Marie Langley (1883–1954)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/farquharson-marie-langley-10155/text17935, published in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 11 March 2014.
This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996