June Members Meeting

7.30pm Friday 3 June

Isabel Story

Shame, Shock and Awful Strife in the Holy Village: Two sojourners who grabbed headlines across the country and kept the good (and not-so-good) folk of Adelaide vastly entertained in the early 1900s.

Thistle Anderson was the daughter of the Deputy Master of the Melbourne Mint. She  emigrated from Scotland as a child, spent her formative years in Melbourne and left her convent school behind to join the chorus of JC Williamson’s theatre. She became a writer, enjoyed several high-profile relationships and then married Adelaide stockbroker Herbert Fisher in London. Eventually they came to live in our fair city. Here she penned a little book, and then another, which made her notorious, or fabulous, depending on your perspective. Adelaide society took great offense at her shameless no-holds-barred opinions and history but they didn’t know the half of it.

At around the same time as Thistle was observing and enduring our ‘holy village’, another Scot visited South Australia, this time to save souls and enlarge his coffers. The Reverend John Alexander Dowie was a former South Australian preacher who had migrated to America and made a fortune as a faith healer and founder of Zion City in Illinois. As Elijah the Restorer, his fire and brimstone evangelism brought strife wherever he went. In 1904 he caused a riot at the Adelaide Town Hall. Windows were broken and Dowie had to flee for his life as police tried to hold back the screaming crowd. His visit here thus proved a little shorter than expected.

About the presenter:

Isabel Story is a Community Engagement Librarian at the State Library of South Australia. As co-presenter of the Library’s monthly Live and Learn program and other events, Isabel researches and writes about lesser-known aspects of South Australian history. She particularly enjoys telling the stories of interesting women from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries and is always open to hearing about forgotten characters, historical scandals, local ghosts and weird phenomena.