CRANKY LADIES OF HISTORY: Due Care with the Truth (Dr Lilian Cooper)

Cranky Ladies logoWelcome to Women’s History Month 2015, which has the theme “Weaving the stories of women’s lives”, which fits perfectly with our Cranky Ladies of History anthology project! After 18 months of work, including our successful crowd-funding campaign in March last year, we are proudly releasing the anthology on March 8. To celebrate, our wonderful authors have supplied blog posts related to their Cranky Lady, and we are delighted to share them here during the month of March. 

To get your own copy of Cranky Ladies of History, you can buy from our website, order your favourite real world bookshop, or purchase at all the major online booksellers (in print and ebook). 

Due Care with the Truth by Sylvia Kelso (“Due Care and Attention”)

POTENTIAL SPOILERS FOR “DUE CARE AND ATTENTION” – check out the story in Cranky Ladies of History before you read!

When you read fiction about a person from actual history, it’s a very natural reaction to ask, How much of this was true?

In my case, quite a lot of the story about Dr Lilian Cooper and her best mate Josephine Bedford is based on fact. Quite a few of Lilian’s remarks were recorded, and a few are used here verbatim, though the curses are manufactured. However, the details of the night trip to Mount Mee are accurate, as is the fractured skull – in 1893 the horse in her dog-cart bolted and threw her into a lamp-post; Lilian was picked up vowing that nothing was wrong, but she was confined to bed for some time, even having the street outside covered with straw, a sign, then, of a dangerously ill patient. When she recovered, Josephine quietly replaced the groom, and drove Lilian on her medical rounds. All to be found in Lilian’s biography, No Easy Path, by Lesley M. Williams.

lilianjosepine-buggy

Image courtesy of the State Library of Queensland

 

Also true is the furore over (relative) speeding on which the story is based. There was a Brisbane cop who excelled in fining speedsters, among whom doctors were notable, both Lilian and Dr Hardie copping the fines cited here. There was also a bill mooted to give police the powers listed. The then stagnant RACQ did resurrect itself to fight the bill, and said bill was dropped: all related in Robert Longhurst’s A Road Well Travelled: RACQ’s first 100 years. The Lennons payroll robbery and the car-chase, however, are definitely fiction. And it’s also fiction that the cop who issued speeding fines was called Higgins.

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