Australian Women's Register

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Hookey, Mabel Madeleine (1871 - 1953)

29 January 1871
Clarence, Tasmania, Australia
13 June 1953
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Artist, Journalist, Photographer and Poet


Mabel Hookey was the first woman journalist in Tasmania. She was also a poet, a painter and an amateur photographer.


Mabel Hookey was born on 29 January 1871 at Clarence, in Tasmania. She was the eldest daughter of Vernon William Bligh Hookey, a barrister and solicitor, and Dorothy (née Stokell). She had a sister, Dora, and a brother, Vernon. The three children grew up with their maternal grandfather, George Stokell, at the Rokeby estate, which Mabel later inherited.

Hookey attended the Ladies Grammar School in Hobart. Her mother's paintings of bush flowers and her sketches of the landscape were an inspiration to Hookey, and ignited her love for art. Hookey studied painting with Edward Officer as well as A.H. Fullwood when he visited Tasmania in 1897 and 1899. In 1902 she attended the Hobart Technical College and was taught by Benjamin Sheppard. She also took part in sketching camps run by Lucien Dechaineux. Hookey studied woodcarving at the Hobart Technical College from 1913-1916. She was also already showing an interest in photography.

Hookey joined the Art Society of Tasmania in 1893, where she eventually held the position vice president. Hookey was also a member of the Royal Society of Tasmania. She was commended for her oil and watercolour paintings, as well as for her drawings, which she exhibited across Tasmania, in Sydney (at the Society of Women Painters), as well as in Europe, participating in the Old Salon in Paris, 1928, and the British Empire exhibition in Wembley, 1924.

Hookey also wrote poetry, with published collections including The Rubaiyat of Solomon and The Romance of Tasmania. Hookey was the first woman journalist in Tasmania, writing for The Post, The Tasmanian Mail, and The Mercury. She became a subeditor of the Daily Telegraph.

Hookey had an adventurous spirit. She enjoyed bushwalking, and travelled around Tasmania, Maria Island, Sydney, Queensland, and the Pacific Islands. At around the turn of the century she travelled further afield, visiting North Africa and Palestine, England, France, China and Japan.

Her photographs include shots of her family and friends, but also document her travels. The photographs depict people set within a landscape, framed in order to draw the viewer into the scene. The compositions are formal in nature; however, her photograph of two women swimming naked in Tasmania broke with the conventions of the time. Hookey did not exhibit any of her photographs.

Mabel Hookey died on 13 June 1953, aged 82, at St John's Park, in Hobart.


State Library of Tasmania

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery


Exhibition - Mabel Hookey's work featured in The Launceston Art Society in Retrospect 1891-1983. Location: Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, Tasmania.
Exhibition - Mabel Hookey's work featured in The Misses Hookey, Murphey. Oldham and Swanexhibition. Location: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart, Tasmania.
Exhibition - Mabel hookey's work featured in Colonial Pastime to Contemporary Profession: 150 years of Australian Women's Art. Location: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart, Tasmania.

Archival resources

National Library of Australia

  • [Biographical cuttings on Mabel M. Hookey, containing one or more cuttings from newspapers or journals], 1900; National Library of Australia. Details

State Library of Victoria

  • [Mabel Hookey: Australian Art and Artists file]; State Library of Victoria. Details

Digital resources

Miss Mabel Hookey, Southport
Hookey, Mabel
LINC Tasmania


Anne Maxwell (with Morfia Grondas and Lucy Van)

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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ISSN 2207-3124