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Elizabeth (Lizzie) Auld (1901–1998)

by Carolyn Collins

This article was published online in 2024

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Elizabeth Auld, c. 1994

Elizabeth Auld, c. 1994

Photograph donated to St Peter’s Girls’ School

Elizabeth Auld (1901–1998), journalist, was born on 16 September 1901 at Eastry Street, Knightsbridge, Adelaide, third child of South Australian-born Ernest Patrick (Pat) Auld, merchant, and his wife Jemima (Mima), née Wade. Lizzie (also affectionately known as Liz or Tom) was a member of one of South Australia’s pioneering winegrowing families: her Scottish-born great-grandfather, Patrick Auld, migrated in 1842 and later planted the Auldana vineyard at Magill. Her education began at a private girls’ school run by Edith Hübbe in Knightsbridge. After coming into conflict with a teacher when she was about twelve, she left the school supposedly for health reasons, but later suspected she had been expelled. During her enforced time spent at home she began writing stories. Around the mid-1910s she resumed her education at St Peter’s Collegiate Girls’ School, where she captained the hockey team and was sub-editor of the school magazine. She once told a teacher that she wanted to become a spy.

Encouraged by her former English teacher to pursue writing, after school (around 1920) Auld took up journalism. Her career began as a proof-reader in the Adelaide offices of the Register. She moved to the switchboard before being appointed secretary to the editor Robert Burns, where her duties included researching and transcribing editorials and selecting letters to the editor for publication. Auld subsequently joined the reporting staff. With input from the prominent physician Sir Trent de Crespigny, she edited a medical column, one of the first of its kind in Australia. She also commenced but abandoned a degree in economics and literature at the University of Adelaide (1922–23).

In 1931 the Register was bought by the Advertiser and Auld, who needed new employment, found work for a short time copywriting four-line advertising verses for a local furniture store and conducting freelance interviews before deciding to move to Melbourne. After submitting two pieces to the Herald, she was offered a job as a reporter, becoming one of the few women on the newspaper’s general staff. But she faced hostility from those who resented her employment at a time when others were being sacked, and it took weeks before anyone on the male-dominated floor would speak to her.

Auld became engaged to a Melbourne stockbroker, Edwin Peter Tivey, in 1940. That same year he volunteered for service in World War II and sailed to the Middle East as a lieutenant in the Australian Imperial Force. He was captured in Egypt in the first battle of El Alamein, and sent to a prisoner of war camp in Italy where he died on 26 March 1943. Auld never married. She spent 1944–45 in Canberra reporting on parliament and became a correspondent for the Adelaide Mail. In 1946 she was appointed to the Herald’s London bureau. During her three-and-a-half years on Fleet Street her reporting focused primarily on society events, fashion, and news about the royal family, such as the 1947 royal wedding. Her interviews with many well-known figures, including the actors Sir Laurence Olivier and Robert Morley, were published across Australia.

Returning to Melbourne in 1950, Auld joined Woman’s Day (Woman’s Day and Home, 1950–53) magazine, which had been launched two years earlier. She also contributed to New Idea and Truth, for which she read tea leaves to write a race tipster’s column. In 1952 she travelled to Woomera in northern South Australia, the first woman journalist permitted to visit the rocket range. Her article focused on the community spirit of women living there, noting: ‘Housewives told me Woomera Village was the happiest place they had ever been in’ (Auld 1952, 5).

Auld later joined Rupert Murdoch’s newly launched newspaper the Australian, becoming the Melbourne correspondent for the pseudonymous Martin Collins column, a long-running, breezy, gossip section (Cryle 2008, 76) that became part of the women’s pages in the early 1970s. She worked there into her seventies, with nobody noticing that she had passed retirement age: reportedly a friendly secretary adjusted her age in the company’s books.

A close friendship formed between Auld and the Murdoch family, which helped facilitate her career and continued after her retirement in 1974. In 1995 she published a children’s book, a ‘sparky’ (Fox 1995, 4) story called The Animal Detectives and the Case of the Kidnapped Kitten. It was launched by Lachlan Murdoch, then publisher of the Australian, with Dame Elisabeth Murdoch attending as an honoured guest. The foreword was written by the actor Barry Humphries, who recalled meeting Auld in the early 1960s ‘when she was a devastatingly attractive Murdoch journalist of an age when most of her colleagues had retired and given up the ghost’ (Auld 1995, 3).

A sunny natured woman with an ‘infectious sense of humour, a sharp nose for news, a remarkable memory and a lively mind’ (Cockburn 1998, 16), Auld spent her final years at her home in Marryatville, Adelaide, enjoying her rose-filled garden and a constant stream of visitors to whom she dispensed her special cocktails dubbed ‘Auldinis.’ She died at home on 31 October 1998 and, after a service at St Peter’s Girls College Chapel, was buried in St George’s Anglican cemetery at Magill.

Research edited by Michelle Staff

Select Bibliography

  • Advertiser (Adelaide). ‘Veteran Journalist Dies at 97.’ 4 November 1998, 9
  • Auld, Elizabeth. ‘Elizabeth (Tom) Auld Aged 92 Old Scholar.’ Unpublished manuscript, n.d. St Peter’s Girls’ School Archives
  • Auld, Elizabeth. ‘These Women Helped to Make Woomera.’ Woman’s Day and Home, 31 March 1952, 5
  • Auld, Tony. The Auld Story. Self-published, 2008. Supplied by Ann Auld. Copy on ADB file
  • AustLit. ‘Elizabeth Auld.’ Last revised 8 October 2001. Accessed 15 September 2023. Copy held on ADB file
  • Cockburn, Stewart. ‘Journalist Made Her Mark in a Man’s World.’ Australian, 4 November 1998, 16
  • Fox, Chloe. ‘Novel Way to a New Career.’ Advertiser (Adelaide), 10 October 1995, 4
  • Herald-Sun (Melbourne). ‘Made News in Her Field.’ 13 November 1998, 100
  • Ward, Peter. ‘Lizzie, 94, Opens New Chapter in Career.’ Australian, 9 October 1995, 4

Additional Resources

Citation details

Carolyn Collins, 'Auld, Elizabeth (Lizzie) (1901–1998)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published online 2024, accessed online 14 April 2024.

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Elizabeth Auld, c. 1994

Elizabeth Auld, c. 1994

Photograph donated to St Peter’s Girls’ School

More images

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Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Auld, Tom

16 September, 1901
Knightsbridge, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


31 October, 1998 (aged 97)
Marryatville, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Cause of Death

general debility

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.