Vale Dr Hilarie Lindsay MBE OAM

It is with great sadness the Zonta Club of Sydney has heard of the passing of long time club member, Dr Hilarie Lindsay MBE OAM (1922 – 2021).  Hilarie has been a member of the Zonta Club of Sydney for 49 of our 55 years, having joined the club in 1972.

When she joined the club, Hilarie was classified under her role as managing director of A.L Lindsay & Co manufacturing – a toy and game manufacturer based in Leichhardt.  Hilarie had joined the company after she married Philip Lindsay (she often told us her next book would be titled “I married a toy factory”. )

She was active in the company for over 40 years.  She was one of the first women to serve on the committee of the Toys and Games Manufacturers’ Association of Australia and was elected the first female president in 1969.  At that time she was the first female president of any division of the Australian Chamber of Manufacturers.  She was inducted into the Australian Toy Association Hall of Fame in 1998.

In addition to her work in manufacturing, Hilarie was also a prolific and multiple award winning author.  She was first published in 1966 under the pen name Lindsay Dyson. She won the Henry Lawson Festival of Arts Award for Short Story that year, and also in 1967.  In 1972 she published the comprehensive “One Hundred and One toys to make”  as well as writing other smaller books about making toys such as puppets and rainy day activities.   The State Library of NSW holds a lot of material from Lindsay’s Leichhardt, including books to “Dress Up and Play the Lindsay way”.  Read about it here

Hilarie was president of the Society of Women Writers (Australia) from 1971 – 1973 and again in 1975-1977.  She lobbied for removal of questions about gender and marital status from literary grant applications, and championed female writers.  In 1974 she received an MBE for services to literature. In 1977 she received the Queen Elizabeth II Silvery Jubilee Medal. 

From 1982 – 1984 and again from 1992 – 1994 she was President of the Fellowship of Australian Writers. 

In 1997, Hilarie completed her PhD, writing her thesis on Winifred Steger, who had published weekly serials during the early 1930s and had been unable to publish fourteen novels.  She later published the biography of Steger as “The Washerwoman’s Dream”, which has become an Australian Classic and was in its third edition in 2018.

Since 1981 the Society of Womens Writers (Australia) have presented the Hilarie Lindsay Aware for achievement by a woman writer.  The Fellowship of Australian Writers hold the Hilarie Lindsay Young Writers Short Story and Poetry competitions in alternate years.  In 2006, Hilarie was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia, for services to literature and through a range of professional organisations mentoring aspiring writers.

Hilarie fought for the rights of women all her life, some of which is written about here in 2011. 

Hilarie was also a member of Rotary, and was one of the first wave of women members after the Rotary International constitution was changed in 1989 to allow women to join.   She served as the Rotary Club of Leichhardt President from 1991 – 1999, which would have put her in a very select group of women who had served as President at that time.  

As a member of the Zonta Club of Sydney for almost 50 years, Hilarie was a well loved and recognised member.  Although over the past year she has not been able to attend meetings during the pandemic she joined us at the club Christmas party in December.  She edited the club newsletter for many years.  

To quote club members today when we learned of her passing, Dr Hilarie Lindsay was a remarkable woman who led a full life dedicated to many causes and social injustices.  A true Zontian indeed. 


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