First Edition. Pioneer worker for social causes and women’s rights, and the first woman member of an Australian parliament.
Edith Brown was born in Geraldton, Western Australia on 2 August 1861. She was the second daughter of Kenneth Brown and Mary Eliza Dircksey née Wittenoom. She was born into an influential and respected family that included her grandfathers Thomas Brown and John Burdett Wittenoom, and an uncle, Maitland Brown. When she was seven years, old her mother died in childbirth and her father sent her to a Perth boarding school, run by the Cowan sisters, the sisters of James , whom she would later marry. Her father remarried, but the marriage was unhappy and he began to drink heavily. When Edith was fifteen, her father shot and killed his second wife, and was subsequently hanged for the crime.
After her father’s death, she left her boarding school and moved to Guildford to live with her grandmother. There, she attended the school of Canon Sweeting, a former headmaster of Bishop Hale’s School who had taught a number of prominent men including John Forrest and Septimus Burt. According to her biographer, Sweeting’s tuition left Brown with a life-long conviction of the value of education, and an interest in books and reading”. Cowan mostly lived in West Perth