Aston, Matilda Ann (1873-1947)

Also known as
Aston, Matilda Anne (1873-1947)
Aston, Tilly (1873-1947)
Field of activity
Disability Rights Activist; Teacher; Writer; Blind Writer
NLA Persistent Identifier
https://nla.gov.au/nla.party-630666

Biographies

Matilda Ann Aston (1873-1947), blind writer and teacher, was born on 11 December 1873 at Carisbrook, Victoria, youngest of the eight children of Edward Aston, bootmaker, and his wife Ann, née Howell....

View the full record at Australian Dictionary of Biography

Matilda Ann Aston (December 11, 1873 - November, 1947), better known as Tilly Aston, was a blind Australian writer and teacher. She founded the (which became the ) and then went on to establish the , assuming the post of secretary. Tilly's energy was unbounded and her achievements (along with those of her co-workers) to promote the human rights of vision impaired people were plentiful. They include:

Matilda (Tilly) Ann Aston was a blind Australian writer and teacher who founded the , and later went on to establish the

Born in the town of Carisbrook, Victoria in 1873, Tilly was one of eight children. Vision impaired from birth, she had lost most of her sight by the age of seven. A chance meeting with Thomas James, an itinerant blind missionary changed her life; he introduced her to the Braille method of reading. She was then persuaded to travel to Melbourne to further her education. After successfully matriculating in 1988, Tilly became the first blind Australian to go to a university. Sadly, she was unable to complete her Arts Degree at the University of Melbourne due to the lack of braille text books. She was forced to discontinue her studies in the middle of her second year.

In 1894, with the assistance of the , Tilly established the This organisation would eventually become the . In 1895, she established the to fight for greater independence, social change and new laws for blind people. They quickly won voting rights for blind people; free postage for Braille material (in 1899 - a world first); and transport concessions for the blind.

In 1913, aged forty, Tilly undertook a course of teacher training to become head of the Victorian Education Department's School for the Blind. The had some misgivings about the appointment, given her disability, but she proved to be a competent educator and administrator, working for the department until ill-health forced her to retire in 1925

As well as being an energetic activist and inspirational teacher, Tilly Aston was a prolific writer. Between 1901 and 1940 she published eight volumes of verse. Her self-penned memoirs were published in 1946. She corresponded with people around the world in Esperanto, and was editor and chief contributor to , a Braille magazine for Chinese mission schools, for many years.

Tilly's lifetime of achievements has been recognised in a number of ways. She twice received the King's Medal for distinguished citizens service. A cairn in her honour was erected by the school children of Carisbrook and the Midlands Historical Society. The Federal electorate Division of Aston in Melbourne's eastern suburbs is named after her, as is a species of rose. There is also a sculpture in her honour in King's Domain, in Melbourne, Victoria. The Tilly Aston Bell rings, but only after one runs one's hands all the way round the Braille inscription that the sculpture carries.

Tilly Aston died from cancer on November 1 1947. Her ability to live a useful, independent life despite her disability was inspirational.

  • Inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women

View the full record at Australian Women's Register

Resources for Matilda Ann Aston

Selected resources (17)

Australian Women's Register

  1. Aston, Matilda Ann
    Published: National Foundation for Australian Women
    Series: IspartOf The Australian Women's Register
  2. The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia
    Smart, Judith and Swain, Shurlee (eds.)
    [2014]
    Published: Australian Women's Archives Project
  3. Aston, Matilda Ann (1873-1947)
    Green, O. S.
    [2006]
    Published: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University
    Series: IspartOf Australian Dictionary of Biography
  4. With Love to My Niece
    Aston, Tilly
    [2005]
    Series: IspartOf Our HistoryVision Australia
  5. The woolinappers : or, some tales from the by-ways of Methodism
    Aston, Tilly
    [Melbourne]
    Published: Spectator Publishing
  6. Songs of Light
    Aston, Tilly
    [London]
    Published: Arthur Barron
  7. Singable Songs
    Aston, Tilly
    [Melbourne]
    Published: Robertson & Mullens
  8. Old timers : sketches and word pictures of the old pioneers
    Aston, Tilly
    [Melbourne]
    Published: Lothian Publishing Co
  9. Maiden verses
    Aston, Tilly
    [Melbourne]
    Published: A.H. Massina
  10. The inner garden
    Aston, Tilly
    [Melbourne]
    Published: The Hawthorn Press
  11. Memoirs of Tilly Aston : Australia's blind poet author and philanthropist.
    Aston, Tilly
    [Melbourne]
    Published: The Hawthorn Press
  12. Our History
    Vision Australia
    [2005]
  13. Lighthouse on the Boulevard: A History of the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind (RVIB) 1866-2004
    Buckrich, Judith R.
    [Melbourne]
    Published: Australian Scholarly Publishing
  14. No Sight -Great Vision: A Centenary History of the Association for the Blind
    Wilson, J.W.
    [Brighton]
    Published: The Association for the Blind
  15. [Biographical cuttings on Matilda Ann Aston, "Australia's blind poet, author and philanthropist", containing one or more cuttings from newspapers or journals]
    Series: National Library of Australia
    Bib ID 189763
  16. Portrait of Tilly Aston [picture]
    [2 photographs : c. 1930 - c. 1947]
    Series: National Library of Australia, Pictures Collection
    Title devised by cataloguer from inscription on photograph. Inscriptions: "Tilly Aston"-- signed on upper left corner of 1 photograph. "Tilly Aston"--on mount bottom centre of second photograph. Condition good. Two copies of the same photograph.
    PIC/4071/1-2 LOC Box PIC/4071
  17. Vision Australia's Heritage Collection
    Series: Vision Australia
    Vision Australia's heritage collection consists of more than 10,000 objects, photographs, film, sound recordings, and documents recording the remarkable history of the organisation.

Resources by Matilda Ann Aston (7)

  1. Memoirs of Tilly Aston : Australia's blind poet, author and philanthropist / Tilly Aston
    Aston, Matilda Ann, 1873-1947
    [ Book : 2005-2016 ]
    At Vision Australia
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 66,522.266)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 66,522.266)

  2. The woolinappers ; or, some tales from the by-ways of Methodism / by Tilly Aston
    Aston, Tilly, 1873-1947
    [ Book : 1905 ]
    View online
    At 11 libraries
    The woolinappers ; or, some tales from the by-ways of Methodism / by Tilly Aston
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 54,618.188)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 54,618.188)

  3. The austral year / verses by Tilly Aston
    Aston, Tilly, 1873-1947
    [ Book : 1919 ]
    At State Library of NSW
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 53,280.09)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 53,280.09)

  4. Maiden verses / by Tilly Aston
    Aston, Tilly 1873-1947
    [ Book : 1901 ]
    View online
    At 17 libraries
    Maiden verses / by Tilly Aston
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 46,650.793)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 46,650.793)

  5. Let songs of joy arise a Christmas carol for mixed voices / words by Tilly Aston ; music by George Findlay
    Findlay, George, composer
    [ Sound : 1939 ]
    View online
    At Trove DigitalLibrary
    Let songs of joy arise a Christmas carol for mixed voices / words by Tilly Aston ; music by George Findlay
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 46,462.379)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 46,462.379)

  6. Biographical information
    Aston, Tilly, 1873-1947
    [ Unpublished : 1900-1978 ]
    At State Library VIC
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 46,021.5)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 46,021.5)

  7. Sweet is the hour anthem for eventide : S.A.T.B. / music by George Findlay ; poem by Tilly Aston
    Findlay, George, composer
    [ Sound : 1938 ]
    View online
    At Trove DigitalLibrary
    Sweet is the hour anthem for eventide : S.A.T.B. / music by George Findlay ; poem by Tilly Aston
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 45,777.227)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 45,777.227)

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  1. OBITUARY Blindness was no bar to Tilly Aston
    The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) Monday 3 November 1947 p 5 Article
    ... OBITUARY Blindness was no bar to Tilly Aston The blind authoress and school teacher Miss Matilda ... Ann Aston died at her home in Windsor on Saturday, aged 74. She wrote eight volumes of prose and ... 304 words
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 2,706.891)

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  2. HONOR TO THE BLIND. THE SUCCESS OF MISS ASTON. PREPARING FOR THE UNIVERSITY COURSE THE ASTON FUND. WHAT IS NEEDED.
    The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 - 1954) Monday 16 February 1891 p 1 Article
    ... . WHAT IS NKI'.DKD. Miss Matilda Ann Aston, of South l arra, who ha the honorable distinction of being ... HONOR TO THE BLIND. the success of miss aston' PREPARING FOR THE UNIVERSITY COURSE THE ASTON FUND ... 426 words
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 2,542.948)

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  3. Family Notices
    The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) Saturday 14 September 1918 p 12 Family Notices
    ... , Herbert Edgar Perkins, England, late A.I.F., ^Sf-to Anne Winifred, daughter of Mr und Mrs J II __I ... 13, 1918, at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. G. Stone, 187 Elizabeth-street, Croy-don, Matilda ... 8170 words
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  1. APPOINTMENTS ON PROBATION.—TEACHERS Department of Education
    Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001) Friday 21 August 1964 [Issue No.100 (SUPPLEMENT)] p 2687

    Government Gazette Appointments And Employment

    ... ; Judith Ann Barton, 4th March, 1964; Nijole Bizys; Carole Joy Carmody; Katherine Cernuta; Denise Conaghan ... February, 1964; Rosemary Stilwell Flynn; Margaret Anne Ford, 3rd February, 1964; Lorna Constance Foster ... 4484 words
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  2. AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY National Memorials Ordinance 1928-1959
    Commonwealth of Australia Gazette (National : 1901 - 1973) Thursday 2 October 1969 [Issue No.83] p 5790

    Government Gazette Notices Illustrated

    ... Cook Cook Cook Cook Cook Cook Cook Cook Cook Origin of Name. Matilda Ann Aston (1873-1947) Caroline ... No. 70 of 14 August 1969. Division of Cook (a) Additions— (1) Aston Crescent .. .. From Cambridge ... 1092 words
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 101.375)

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  3. NOTICE UNDER REAL PROPERTY ACT.
    Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001) Friday 8 October 1920 [Issue No.180] p 5943

    Government Gazette Notices

    ... perches, including premises No. 30 Ann-street. No. 22,190. APPLICANT :—Perpetual Trustee Company (Limited ... ,483. APPLICANT:—Louisa Isabella Aston, Morangarell. LAND:- Municipality Burvrood, 36i[ perches, including premises ... 338 words
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Pictures, photos, objects

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  1. The price of a song / words by Tilly Aston ; music by Emily Kipling Cox
    Cox, Emily, -1947
    [ Printed music : 1944 ]
    View online (access conditions)
    At 2 libraries
    The price of a song / words by Tilly Aston ; music by Emily Kipling Cox
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 291.701)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 291.701)

  2. The price of a song / words by Tilly Aston ; music by Emily Kipling Cox
    Cox, Emily, -1947
    [ Printed music : 1944 ]
    At National Library
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 212.34)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 212.34)

  3. The memoirs of Tilly Aston / by Tilly Aston
    Aston, Tilly, 1873-1947
    [ Audio book : 1986 ]
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 209.669)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 209.669)

  4. Let songs of joy arise : a Christmas carol for mixed voices / words by Tilly Aston ; music by George Findlay
    Findlay, George, composer
    [ Printed music : 1939 ]
    At 2 libraries
    Let songs of joy arise : a Christmas carol for mixed voices / words by Tilly Aston ; music by George Findlay
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 172.945)

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  1. Memoirs of Tilly Aston : Australia's blind poet author and philanthropist
    Aston, Tilly, 1873-1947
    [ Book : 1946 ]
    At 23 libraries
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 1,001.937)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 1,001.937)

  2. Brief autobiography of Tilly Aston / Matilda Ann Aston
    Aston, Matilda Ann
    [ Book : 1944 ]
    At State Library of NSW
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 611.861)

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  3. The memoirs of Tilly Aston / by Tilly Aston
    Aston, Tilly, 1873-1947
    [ Audio book : 1986 ]
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 555.025)

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  4. The inner garden / by Tilly Aston
    Aston, Tilly, 1873-1947
    [ Book : 1940 ]
    View online (access conditions)
    At 14 libraries
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  1. Druery family research
    Druery family research
    Created by indias49, 470 items.

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  1. [Biographical cuttings on Matilda Ann Aston, "Australia's blind poet, author and philanthropist", containing one or more cuttings from newspapers or journals]
    [ Published : 1900-1990 ]
    At National Library
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 647.323)

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  2. Piper, Bakewell & Piper
    Piper, Bakewell & Piper
    [ Unpublished : 1837-1900 ]
    At State Library S Aust
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  1. Advertising (1 November 1969)
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    [ Article : 1946-1969 ]
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  2. LITTERS NOTIFIED (1 August 1949)
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