Partner Muriel Kirton
14 Kowhai St, Strandon, New Plymouth 4312, New Zealand
Huirangi Cemetery, Huirangi 4373, New Zealand
Elsie Euphemia Andrews (23 December 1888 – 26 August 1948) was a New Zealand teacher and community leader.
She was born in Huirangi, Taranaki, New Zealand on 23 December 1888. Her parents were John Andrews and his wife, Emily Young, who both came from Taranaki pioneering families. Elsie Andrews was the only one of twelve siblings who attended secondary school; she received her education at Huirangi School and with the help of a scholarship, she went on to New Plymouth High School. When she failed entrance examinations to both university and teachers' college, she became a pupil-teacher at Waitara School. After completing her training, she moved around various rural schools before getting a permanent position at New Plymouth's Fitzroy School.
She unsuccessfully contested the New Plymouth electorate in the 1935 election as an Independent; she was one of only three women who stood for election that year.
Elsie Andrews and her life-partner Muriel Kirton lived in New Plymouth, where Andrews, a feminist and pacifist activist, took leading roles in organisations including the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), the National Council of Women, the Women Teachers' Association, the NZ Educational Institute and the Pan-Pacific Women's Association, and was a founder of the Taranaki Women's Club and the New Plymouth Girls' High School Old Girls' Association. Like other couples of the period, Andrews and Kirton appear to have presented themselves publicly as women above reproach, including Andrews' opposition to the moral dangers of alcohol and her work with the WCTU. Andrews, and probably Kirton, read widely and were familiar with the work of feminist writers Virginia Woolf, Winifred Holtby and Vera Brittain. They appear to have been part of a lesbian friendship network, centred on New Plymouth with New Zealand-wide links, and also to have had overseas lesbian connections through participation in international organisations and conferences. Andrews' passionate attractions to women other than Kirton are apparent in her conference diaries and unpublished poetry.
She died on 26 August 1948 at New Plymouth, having never married.
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