Woman McGuire, Francis Margaret Cheadle

Author and Catholic lay leader
Alternative Names
  • Cheadle, Margaret

Written by Shurlee Swain, Australian Catholic University

Margaret Cheadle was born into a prominent Congregationalist family in Adelaide in 1900. Educated at home she attended Adelaide University, graduating with an honours degree in science before taking up a position in the university laboratories. In 1927 she married writer and later diplomat, Paul McGuire whom she had met at University, converting to Catholicism prior to the marriage. They travelled to England where McGuire began to write as a freelance correspondent for Australian newspapers.

On their return to Adelaide in 1932 the couple founded the Catholic Guild for Social Studies which offered a program of prayer, study, social action and recreation to a membership which grew to 2000 in its first year. Many of the members were unemployed young people but groups also formed in parishes, workplaces, schools and hospitals. Margaret was appointed director of studies and in this role planned the program of studies, appointed the teachers and also conducted courses and delivered lectures about the nature of the lay apostolate. Although she often described her contribution in terms of support and encouragement she provided a powerful role model to female members of a woman in a leadership role. In 1939 she published a handbook to be followed by Catholic Action groups which adapted the methods developed in Europe for what she saw as the more practical mentality of women in Australia (Massam, p.213).

The Guild lost most of its members and its enthusiasm during the war when the McGuires were involved in wartime duties. Margaret took on the role of a diplomatic wife, supporting her husband both in his writing and in his military and later diplomatic posts. She played an active part in several women's organisations, including the National Council of Women and in 1939 was an Australian delegate to the League of Nations. In 1941 she travelled with her husband to Malaya and the then Netherlands East Indies, from which she reported back on her admiration for the leading role which women were taking in preparations for war (Sydney Morning Herald, 8 May 1941).

McGuire was the author or co-author of ten books ranging from military history to detective novels (Sunday Herald, 24 May 1953) and often spoke to women's association meetings about her writings and her travels. Childless she filled her life with committee work and acting as a hostess for her husband. She died, a widow, in 1995.

Published Resources


  • Massam, Katharine, Sacred Threads: Catholic Spirituality in Australia 1922-1962, University of New South Wales (UNSW) Press, Sydney, New South Wales, 1996. Details
  • McGuire, Frances Margaret, Handbook for Catholic Action groups, Catholic Guild for Social Studies, Adelaide, South Australia, 1939. Details

Newspaper Articles

Online Resources

See also