Monday, March 30, 2009

Auntie Mab

Mabel Compson Trumble (1889–1961) was the eldest of the six children of our great-grandparents, J. W. Trumble and Susan Davies. Auntie Mab, as she was known, was a teacher of French and English and for some years joined the staff of what is no doubt correctly presumed to have been an exclusive school for young ladies at Montreux in Switzerland. She was the author of “a French reader for young children” entitled Micheline et Didi, which, together with these charming lithographed illustrations by her brother-in-law, the artist A. E. (“Peter”) Newbury, and slightly less interesting ones drawn by a cousin, Arthur C. Trumble (more like diagrams, really), was published in Melbourne in 1935 by Macmillans, in association with McCarron, Bird & Co. It carries a charming and enigmatic dedication “À la petite Micheline qui m’a enseigné tant.”

Micheline and Didi are fox cubs who live with their parents, Monsieur et Madame Renard, in a comfortable, middle-class, three-storey tree-house with hammock. According to our eccentric cousin Robert, this brief but intelligent publication may be regarded as the first book ever written by a Trumble. But it also attests to the vision and prescience of McCarron, Bird & Co., whose shrewd proprietor obviously recognized that spark of genius that distinguishes Trumble women in every generation, as indeed his grandson Bruce Stewart did, and still does.

Auntie Mab went on to be secretary of the executive committee of the Queen’s Fund, based at the Melbourne Town Hall, in which role she was certainly well established by 1945. The Queen’s Fund was originally set up in 1887 as the chief permanent commemoration in Victoria “of the completion of the Fiftieth year of the Queen’s reign, raised by women, managed chiefly by women, for the good of women, and in honour of the long reign of a good woman, during which the general position of women has been in a hundred ways improved.” Lady Loch, its founder and inaugural president, stated that the Fund existed “solely for the relief of women in distress.”

No comments:

Post a Comment