Anna Teresa Brennan

Born
2 September 1879
Emu Creek, Victoria, Australia
Died
11 October 1962
Parkville, Victoria, Australia
Occupation
Lawyer
Jurisdiction

Anna Brennan, member of a talented Victorian family, was a devout Catholic who actively pursued the cause of women's equality throughout her life. She was one of the earliest woman to graduate in law at the University of Melbourne in 1909 and practised as a solicitor in her brother's legal firm for fifty years. She was a foundation member of the Lyceum Club in 1912 and president from 1940-41.The Victorian Legal Women's Association was established in 1931 with Brennan serving as president. A founding committee member of the Catholic Women's Social Guild in 1916, later the Catholic Women's League, she served as president from 1918-1920. She joined the Victorian branch of St Joan's International Alliance, holding the office of president from 1938-1945 and again in 1948 until her death in 1962.

Anna Brennan was the thirteenth child of Michael Brennan, farmer and his wife Mary nee Maher. She commenced medical studies at the University of Melbourne in 1904, but was not permitted to continue as she was 'too nervous to do the dissections'. She commenced the law course in 1906, graduating in 1909. At the university she became a member of the Princess Ida Club for women students, was an office bearer from 1907-1909 and remained a committee member until 1913. She represented the Princess Ida Club on the national Council of Women in 1912

She became a partner in her brother Frank's firm, specialising in the matrimonial field and campaigned for more equitable laws in relation to divorce. She was the second woman in Victoria to be admitted to practice.

Her commitment to her Catholic faith was evident in her involvement with the Catholic Women's Social Guild, lecturing and writing for its publications Women's Social Work and its successor Horizon.

Joan of Arc was an inspiration to her and she joined the forerunner of the St Joan's International Alliance, the Catholic Women's Suffrage Society in London. She was an inaugural member of the Victorian chapter of the St Joans' International Alliance when it was established in 1936 and was president from 1938-45 and 1948-62.

Sources used to compile this entry: Horizon in retrospect, 1916-1986, Catholic Women's League Committee, Melbourne, 1985, 48 pp; Blackall, Alice, 'Anna Brennan…the Valiant Woman', The Horizon, February, 1963, p. 3; Brennan, Anna T, 'Tributes to a Medical Missionary Pioneer: Dr Mary Glowrey (Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart) - First C.W.S.G. President', The Horizon, July, 1957, p. 4; 11; Campbell, Ruth and Morgan, Margaret, 'Brennan, Anna Teresa (1879-1962)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A070404b.htm; Gillison, Joan, The Lyceum Club, Melbourne 1912-1962., The Lyceum Club, Melbourne, 1962, 15 pp; Kerwin, Hollie and Rubenstein, Kim, 'Law', in The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia, Judith Smart and Shurlee Swain (eds), Australian Women's Archives Project, 2014, http://www.womenaustralia.info/leaders/biogs/WLE0624b.htm; 'Brennan, Anna Teresa (1879-1962)', Trove, National Library of Australia, 2009, http://nla.gov.au/nla.party-754053; Papers and history of the Lyceum Club, 1970 - 1975, MS 9182; State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection; Princess Ida Club, 1895 - 1915, 63/30; The University of Melbourne Archives; Princess Ida Club, 1888 - 1915, 88/168; The University of Melbourne Archives; Radi, Heather (ed.), 200 Australian Women: A Redress Anthology, Women's Redress Press, Sydney, 1988, 258 pp. Also available at http://nla.gov.au/nla.arc-78644; Records of the St Joan's International Alliance, 1911 - 1994, GB 0106 2/SJA; Women's Library; Smart, Judith and Swain, Shurlee (eds), 'Brennan, Anna Teresa', The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia, Australian Women's Archives Project, 2 May 2014, http://www.womenaustralia.info/leaders/biogs/WLE0084b.htm.

Prepared by Rosemary Francis and Anne Heywood