Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Isaacson, Caroline (Lynka) (1900–1962)

by Sally A. White

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

Caroline (Lynka) Isaacson (1900-1962), journalist, was born on 14 September 1900 in Vienna, elder daughter of Emile Jacobson, shipping executive, and his wife Bettina, née Lipmann. Privately educated by a governess who gave her the pet name 'Lynka', Caroline finished her schooling at Highbury Park, London. She had begun writing freelance articles before she met Arnold Isaacson, a 37-year-old lieutenant in the Australian Imperial Force who had participated in the landing at Gallipoli. They were married on 30 March 1919 at the Dalston Synagogue, Islington. In 1926 they sailed with their two children for Melbourne, where Arnold began a long career as a printing manufacturer's agent with Lamson Paragon Ltd.

In 1928 Caroline asked (Sir) Geoffrey Syme, managing editor of the Age, for a reporting job. The family needed the money. With her fair complexion, well-modulated English accent and fashion sense, she adapted to writing social notes and was soon appointed editor of the women's pages. She then moved as women's editor to the Age's rural weekly magazine, the Leader, where she adopted the nom de plume 'Viola' and began a section called 'The Spare Corner'. Although she employed nannies and housekeepers, and spent little time on domestic chores other than cooking, she held 'womanly pursuits' in high regard. 'The Spare Corner' was conceived as a correspondence and service section for country women who used it to exchange household hints and tales of their lives. Isaacson promoted the exchange with characteristic purpose, travelling throughout Victoria, addressing meetings of the Country Women's Association, speaking with her readers and editing several editions of For Australian Women: The Leader Spare Corner Book.

Her energy was not confined to journalism. A foundation member of the Liberal Synagogue, St Kilda, she worked on the Jewish Board of Deputies' programmes, helping refugees from Nazi Germany adapt to Australia. Isaacson was a staunch supporter of the Freeland League for Jewish Territorial Colonisation, which lobbied for the establishment of a Jewish settlement in the North-West of Western Australia, and she taught English to refugees. She was also executive-officer of the British Memorial Fund, and an active supporter of the Country Women's Association, the Young Women's Christian Association and Melbourne's theatrical community.

Early in World War II, Isaacson worked as the Age's foreign news sub-editor. In July 1942 she enlisted in the Australian Women's Army Service and was commissioned lieutenant in October. After a short time as an adjutant, she was transferred to the Directorate of Public Relations; with the rank of captain, she conducted journalists on their visits to army installations. She was placed on the Retired List in September 1943.

In 1945 Isaacson joined the Argus as editor of its women's pages. Three years later she became owner and editor of, and reporter for a country newspaper, Dandenong Ranges News. Still active in Jewish affairs, she was honorary editor (from 1948) of the Australian Jewish Outlook and director of public relations (from 1952) of the Victorian Jewish Board of Deputies. In 1953 she joined her son's firm as editorial director of three suburban newspapers, the Southern Cross (Brighton), the Elsternwick Advertiser and the Prahran News. After her husband died in 1960, she retired and visited Europe and England. She died on 23 January 1962 at Genoa, Italy. Her daughter, the photographer Joan Beck, survived her, as did her son Peter who had served in the Royal Australian Air Force and was thrice decorated during World War II.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Women's Weekly, 31 July 1948
  • Herald (Melbourne), 26 Jan 1962
  • Age (Melbourne), 27 Jan 1962
  • personal papers (privately held)
  • private information.

Citation details

Sally A. White, 'Isaacson, Caroline (Lynka) (1900–1962)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/isaacson-caroline-lynka-10594/text18821, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 17 October 2018.

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, 2006-2018

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Jacobson, Caroline
  • Viola
Birth

14 September 1900
Vienna, Austria

Death

23 January 1962
Genoa, Italy

Cultural Heritage
Religious Influence
Occupation