Enid Lyons was constantly involved in official duties as prime ministerial spouse, in servicing the Wilmot electorate and in party campaigning. She was one of the most able and committed prime ministerial spouses in Australian political history. In her view, there was no boundary between political and community work. She observed that the enfranchisement of women had brought human issues onto the political agenda around the world.
When Mrs Lyons became prime ministerial wife she was aged 33, and the mother of 11 children. In 1933, their last child, Janice Mary, became the second child born to a prime ministerial family in Australia (James Fisher's was the first).
Despite these demands, Mrs Lyons took on a busy official role between 1932 and 1939. With her large family divided between The Lodge in Canberra, school in Melbourne and the family home in Devonport, Tasmania, she travelled constantly to meetings, speaking engagements, and managed a family spread across 3 states. Mrs Lyons observed that one period of 5 weeks was the longest time she had managed to remain at The Lodge. In 1935, the Lyons went to England for the jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary. On their second official visit in 1937, for the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, she was made a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire.
4 years after Lyons’ death, Dame Enid became the first woman in the House of Representatives when she won the seat of Darwin (later Braddon) in 1943, during the Curtin government. She remained in parliament until 1951, becoming the first woman in Cabinet when she was appointed Vice-President of the Executive Council in the Menzies government in 1949.
From 1951 to 1962, Dame Enid served as a member of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC).
In 1980, she was made Dame in the Order of Australia. She died at her Devonport home in 1981, aged 84.
- Langmore, Diane, Prime Ministers’ Wives: The Public and Private Lives of Ten Australian Women, McPhee Gribble, Ringwood, Victoria, 1992.
- Lyons, Enid, So We Take Comfort, William Heinemann, Melbourne, 1965.
- White, Kate, Joseph Lyons, Prime Minister of Australia 1932–1939, Black Inc., Melbourne, 2000.