Out of the Shadows

The Keeper of Cups (King) depicts a character who has a deep understanding of themselves and their abilities. Keepers are wise and diplomatic and step gracefully into positions of leadership.

Eleanor Roosevelt, Hazel Hawke and Elizabeth Macquarie were each spouses of men who held high office. These women could have been overshadowed by their husbands who held positions of power but none of these woman chose in the shadows. Each set ways of exercising her personal power. They each had an immense goodwill for others.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was the longest-serving First Lady throughout her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms in office (1933-1945). She was an American politician, diplomat, and activist who later served as a United Nations spokeswoman. When Mrs. Roosevelt came to the White House in 1933, she understood social conditions better than any of her predecessors and she transformed the role of First Lady accordingly. She never shirked official entertaining; she greeted thousands with charming friendliness. She also broke precedent to hold press conferences, travel to all parts of the country, give lectures and radio broadcasts, and express her opinions candidly in a daily syndicated newspaper column, “My Day.”

Hazel Hawk

Hazel Hawk was the wife of a former Prime Minister but a remarkable woman in her own right, influencing policy and advocating for issues she was passionate about. As prime ministerial spouse, Mrs Hawke enjoyed her time at The Lodge (1983–91). Mrs Hawke was patron of many welfare, education, arts, and environmental organisations. Most notable during her 8 years at The Lodge was her work for the Australiana Fund and her sympathetic restoration of the building’s interior. The Australiana Fund, started by Tamie Fraser, used donations to collect Australian art and furniture for the 4 official residences – Government House and The Lodge in Canberra, and Admiralty House and Kirribilli House in Sydney.

Typical of her many speeches was an address delivered at the National Press Club in Canberra in January 1984, when she spoke about women, Aboriginal people, social welfare and changes in her life since her husband became Prime Minister. At first she wrote her own speeches, but then began to find demands on her too great, despite the help of an official secretary. She then drew on briefing notes provided by relevant federal agencies, such as the Office for the Status of Women.

In recognition of the achievements of her public life, Mrs Hawke was awarded the Order of Australia on 11 June 2001.

Mrs Hawke revealed publicly in 2003 that she was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. With Alzheimer’s Australia, she established the Hazel Hawke Alzheimer’s Research and Care Fund for research into the disease and support for sufferers, their families and carers.

Elizabeth Macquarie

Elizabeth Macquarie, the wife of New South Wales Governor, Lachlan Macquarie, was an active supporter of her husband’s plan to transform the penal settlement at Sydney into a thriving settler colony. By February 1821, the fledgling colony of NSW had been transformed by governor Lachlan Macquarie and his wife, Elizabeth. They had reorganised Sydney with straight streets and fine civic buildings such as the Sydney Hospital and the Hyde Park Barracks. The colony’s reaches were extending ever further beyond the Blue Mountains and past Camden in the south-west. And deserving convicts were being granted pardons or, once their terms expired, were being allowed some of the same rights as the free settlers.

Elizabeth was a strong willed and determined woman and a devoted wife. She was an intrepid traveller, and her surviving 1809 journal of the voyage to Australia reveals a lively and inquisitive mind. Though dogged by ill health for much of her later life, she accompanied Lachlan on all of his major journeys throughout New South Wales and Tasmania. Recent histories have also indicated that she took an active role in instigating, designing and supervising many of the public works programs that her husband implemented during his time as Governor. She fully supported his efforts to transform a penal settlement into a thriving settler colony.

After her husband resigned as Governor, amidst criticism and controversy over the administration of the colony under his leadership, the couple returned to Britain, to live at Macquarie’s estate, Jarvisfield on Mull, Scotland. Lachlan died in 1824.

After his death, she continued to work tirelessly to promote the memory of his achievement, most graphically by making the claim on Macquarie’s tombstone inscription that his character and services to society ‘rendered him truly deserving the appellation by which he has been distinguished: THE FATHER OF AUSTRALIA.’

Life at Government House in the Macquarie Era

For Reflection

What choices have worked out well for you?
What choices didn’t work so well?
What choices will you make as you age? What legacy do you want to leave behind?