Partner Elsie Andrews

Queer Places:
14 Kowhai St, Strandon, New Plymouth 4312, New Zealand

Elsie Andrews and her life-partner Muriel Kirton (August 10, 1893 – December 14, 1980), a teacher at Fitzroy School, 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, including Bethell and Pollen, 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 Andrews' passionate attractions to women other than Kirton are apparent in her conference diaries and unpublished poetry.

Born 10 August 1893 at Christchurch, Muriel Kirton was the daughter of Robert, Chief Postmaster, and Frances Kirton, with one brother, Henry Andrews died of liver cancer, aged sixty, on 26 August 1948, having become ill with what was thought to be "jaundice" only a month before, and was buried at Huirangi Cemetery among the Andrews' family graves. The house was left to Kirton, who lived there until her death from heart disease, aged eighty-seven, on 14 December 1980. She was cremated and her ashes scattered in the New Plymouth Garden of Remembrance.'" Though her grief at the rapid and premature death of Andrews may be assumed to have been devastating, we have no record of Kirton's life after Andrews died.


  1. Lady-Husband and Kamp Ladies, Pre-1970 Lesbian Life in Aotearoa/New Zealand, by Alison J. Laurie