Evelyn Masterman (’25)

Peace Activist, Poet, Tasmania’s First Parliamentary Librarian and Member of Order Australia

Evelyn (Eve) Loois Masterman (31 May 1907 to 5 May 2014) was born in the United Kingdom in 1907, the youngest of six children. Eve was sister to the famous Tasmanian author Nan Chauncy, also a Collegiate Old Girl.

After migrating to Tasmania with the family in 1912, she was educated at Collegiate before completing her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Tasmania in the early 1930’s.

Eve went on to study librarianship in Melbourne and was appointed as the first Tasmanian Parliamentary Librarian in 1945, a position she held for over 20 years. In 1958, she was awarded the Sir John Morris Memorial Scholarship and travelled overseas to visit large legislative libraries in London and Washington.

In 1976, Eve was named a Member of the Order of Australia for her contribution to public service.

Eve worked tirelessly for social justice, peace and the environment her entire life. She joined the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Australian Section in the 1940s and was the Australian Branch Delegate to Geneva for international conferences in 1968 and 1973.

Eve was a long-term member of Alliance Française , amongst other organisations, and an inaugural member of Servas International. She was instrumental in the establishment of the International Peace Forest (Peace Park) at Berriedale.

Eve received a number of peace awards, including the Australian Peace Prize in 1986 for her work with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and a United Nations Award in 2001 for her lifetime of dedication to the cause of peace and loyalty to the United Nations and its Tasmanian Association.

In recognition of Eve’s significant contribution, the WILPF Tasmanian Branch established the Eve Masterman Peace Poetry Prize.

Eve died on 5 May 2014 at the age of 106.

“Once they roamed fearless and far,

Kings of the unexplored,

With their great stiff tails outstretched,

Knowing no overlord.

Across the button grass plains

And over the mountain tops,

Through the long soft twilight they sped

To their lair in the eucalypt copse.

Warm was their cub in its pouch

As they streaked through the shadowy trees,

Ears pricked and eyes gleaming they hunted,

Sniffing their prey on the breeze.

Hunger and cold they knew,

And snow on the tracks where they ran,

But no living thing did they fear,

Until the coming of man!

Blackman made fires in the forest,

White man brought sheep and a gun,

Dogs fawning and spreading distemper,

The reign of the tiger was done…

Careless of flora and fauna,

Of all but immediate gain

For himself in his own little corner,

Man slaughtered and slaughtered again.”

 Lost Heritage, EVelyn Masterman, Appears in: River of Verse : A Tasmanian Journey 1800-2004; (p. 130)