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Brookes, Dame Mabel Balcombe (1890–1975)

Mabel Brookes, by Broothorn, n.d.

Mabel Brookes, by Broothorn, n.d.

from Who's Who in the World of Women, vol 2, 1934

Dame Mabel Brookes died early today in her South Yarra Flat, aged 84.

She had been ill for some time. About 10 days ago she had a stroke after leaving hospital and had since been attended by nurses 24 hours a day.

An author, historian, social worker and society hostess, Dame Mabel was married for 57 years to the well-known tennis player Sir Norman Brooks, who died in 1968.

The only child of a prominent Melbourne lawyer, Mr H. Emmerton, Dame Mabel became the president of the committee of management of the Queen Victoria Hospital in 1924 and held the position until 1970.

In 1943 she stood unsuccessfully as a Woman for Canberra Movement candidate in the Federal election.

During World War II she worked at the Maribyrnong Munitions Factory for eight months after signing on as Mrs Brookes.

Among many servicemen she entertained during the war time was Mr Lyndon Johnson, who later became President of the US. When President Johnson visited Australia in 1966 he called on Dame Mabel.

Dame Mabel was involved in the Australian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and a variety of other charity work.

She was awarded the French Chevalier de la Legion D'Honneur and in 1955 received the DBE.

Dame Mabel was the author of six books. The last, 'Memoirs', published in October last year, was dedicated to Sir Robert Menzies.

Sir Robert said tonight that Dame Mabel was "one of the most remarkable woman of our time".

"Mabel had a keen historic sense and a beautiful organising mind", he said. . . She has left her memorial behind her in the form of the Queen Victoria Hospital."

Talking about her memoirs last year, Dame Mable said there was nothing she would have changed in her life.

"I'd like to travel and write some more, but I'll just jog along now and die peacefully", she said.

"I have had a very busy life".

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'Brookes, Dame Mabel Balcombe (1890–1975)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/brookes-dame-mabel-balcombe-9591/text35518, accessed 20 February 2019.

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