HerStory Archive

ALLAN, Stella

Also known as: Stella Henderson and 'Vesta' (pen name)

Born: October 25, 1871

Died: March 1, 1962

Special Achievements:

Introduced the first woman's page in Australian daily paper.  In 1907, the Argus  commissioned Stella to write a series of articles on the first Australian Women's Work Exhibition.  They aroused much interest and next year the Argus invited her to join its full-time staff and begin a weekly section  on the particular interests of women.  She adoped the nom de plume "Vesta"  and colled the column, 'Women to Women'.  Her work was unique in an Australian daily paper at that time.  In 1910, she was one of three foundation members of the Australian Journalists' Association.

In 1890-1, Stella was the first woman in New Zealand to begin a law course, later working for a legal firm while completing her degree. The study of law had always been ope to women in New Zealand but its practice was still barred to them and Stella encountered oppositiion to her work in a law office; her case was one which led to amending legislation in 1896 allowing women to practise as barristers or solicitors. She then went on to become the Wellingon-based correspondent and leader-writer for the Lyttleton Times. Her appointment, the first for a woman, was not welcomed by the all-male Press Gallery, and special permission had to be obtained from a subcommittee of the House before her presence was accepted. Stella and her husband moved to Melbourne, Australia in 1903 and joined a large group of stimulating intellectuals. Alfred Deakin and his wife Pattie were close friends and the two women had a mutual interest in social welfare and women's affairs, and Stella became deeply involved in community affairs. In 1924, she was appointed substitute delegate for Australia to the fifth assembly of the League of Nations at Geneva and was a delegate to the second Pan Pacific Women's Conference in Hawaii in 1930.