A Clear Vision: Mrs Janet O’Connor and the Duporth School for Young Women, Oxley, Queensland
Mrs Janet O’Connor – first Lady Principal of Brisbane Girls Grammar in 1875 – was a woman ahead of her time. Her philosophy of education clashed with the established grammar mode. Her answer was to establish her own school Duporth, which became a leading Queensland school for girls.
Educated, cultured and daughter of a Royal Navy Surgeon from Cornwall, her view of education was the cultivation of the mind and character. The liberal curriculum emphasised the study of literature, languages, art and music. Her students would emerge as intelligent, capable young women who could take their place in society and contribute.
Girls came from across Brisbane, Queensland and Northern New South Wales to attend Duporth, and the school community held loyal friends, among them Nellie Melba, the Australian opera diva.
Author Elisabeth Wheeler presents Janet O’Connor’s story in A Clear Vision. Meticulously researched, illustrated and indexed, it contains lists of enrolments of girls and biographies on selected students and staff, providing insight into the role of women in the nascent years of a ‘European’ Australia, through to post First World War.
A Clear Vision is social history, educational history, biography, and more. It is a reconstruction and an anatomy of a school – a window into the world of early Queensland and Australia, its people, emergent classes, values and aspirations through the lens of a visionary educator, Mrs Janet O’Connor, and Duporth.