Lily May Atkinson

Suffragist and feminist.

Grave of Lily May Atkinson

Date of birth:  29 March 1866
Date of death:  19 July 1921

Originally from Auckland, Lily moved to Wellington with her family in 1874 when she was seven years old. Her community mindedness was demonstrated at an early age; Lily, with her mother and sisters, taught English to Chinese immigrants and reading skills to factory workers.

In 1885 Lily joined the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Well regarded for her influential manner and her firm belief in the ability of women to bring about social change, Lily rose through the ranks of the WCTU from secretary to president.

Lily made many public addresses during the WCTU's campaign for women's suffrage. A popular public speaker, her husband described her as a "prodigy of talent, public and private ... a beautiful platform speaker and as strong off the platform where so many good platform hands are weak."