The State Library of Queensland holds a small but worthy collection that relates to Henrietta Willmore, whose efforts during the First World War earned her the gratitude of the Kingdom of Belgium.

Queen Elisabeth Medal

Queen Elisabeth Medal

 A self-taught pianist, Henrietta Mallalieu arrived in Brisbane in 1864 with her first husband, Alfred Mallalieu and her small daughter. Henrietta made her concert debut in Brisbane 1866 and took a position as music mistress at Mrs Thomas’ Academy for Young Ladies in Charlotte Street, in 1867.

Brisbane Courier, 4 September 1865, p6.

Later known as Madame Mallalieu, she collaborated with Richard Thomas Jeffries and together they were hailed for breathing life into the musical society of Brisbane. Madame Mallalieu took up playing the organ and married her teacher Walter Willmore; she promoted organ recitals and played at the opening event for the installation of the Willis organ at the Exhibition Building in 1892.

There was another side to Henrietta Willmore however, and that was her strong beliefs in women’s rights – she carried a reputation as a formidable suffragette. She was heavily involved in the Queensland Women’s Electoral League, the Queensland Suffrage League as well as the Women’s Franchise Association.

During the First World War she was president of the Toowong branch of the Belgian Relief Fund, and for her efforts was awarded the ‘Medal de la Reine Elisabeth’.

Letter from Kingdom of Belgium

Further collections at the State Library that relate to Henrietta include a Cutting Book collated by one of her daughters Beatrice Ethel Mallalieu, herself an accomplished musician. It is a fabulous resource to delve into, and includes newspaper clippings, leaflets and flyers relating to her mother. Henrietta Willmore outlived three of her five children and she continued to perform up until her eighties, she died age 97.

E B Mallalieu Cutting Book

Collections at the State Library that relate to Henrietta Willmore:

  1. OM65-40 Mrs H Willmore Letter
  2. OM73-48 Willmore Discussion Club Records 1935-1937
  3. OM78-04/43 Graham Willmore Papers 1891
  4. OM80-54 Henrietta Willmore Biography c.1940
  5. Annual report of the Willmore Discussion Club, 1937
  6. OM92-136 Miss B E Mallalieu Cutting Book
  7. OM81-57 E L Turpin Letter 1896
  8. OM89-05 Frederick Rogers Papers 1963
  9. OM81-48 Seymour Dicker Letter
  10. OM81-29 Sir Leslie Orme Wilson Letter

Marg Powell | Q ANZAC 100 Content Technician

State Library of Queensland