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So far Karen has created 106 blog entries.

Helen Reddy

Helen Reddy was born in 1941 in Melbourne into a well-known Australian show business family. Her mother was an actress, singer and dancer and her father a writer, producer and actor. At age four, she joined her parents on the Australian [...]

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Ruston was born in Belgium in 1929. Her early childhood was sheltered and privileged and the family travelled between London, Brussels, Arnhem and The Hague where she learned five languages. Her father had left the family in 1935, so when [...]

Diana Ross

Diana Ross was born in Detroit in 1944. She began taking classes in clothing design, millinery and pattern making as she aspired to become a fashion designer. However, at fifteen, Diana joined a girl band called the Primettes, and following a [...]

Tina Turner

Anna Mae Bullock was born in Nutbush, Tennessee in 1939, the youngest of three daughters. As a young girl, she sang in the Baptist Church choir. Anna first saw Ike Turner and his band, the Kings of Rhythm, perform in a [...]

Tori Amos

Myra Ellen Amos was born in North Carolina in 1963. A musical prodigy, from the time she could reach the piano, she taught herself to play. When she was two, she could reproduce pieces of music she had only heard once, [...]

Dionne Warwick

Marie Dionne Warrick was born in New Jersey, USA in 1940. Many of Dionne's family were members of the Drinkard Singers, a renowned family gospel group performing in the New York area. Member Cissy Houston, mother of famed singer Whitney Houston, [...]

Joni Mitchell

Roberta Joan Anderson was born in 1943, in Alberta, Canada. Joni struggled at school and her main interest was painting. At age nine, she contracted polio in an epidemic and was hospitalised for weeks. One of her teachers did make an [...]

Carole King

Carol Klein was born in 1942 in New York. Her mother played piano at home and Carol was eager to learn. When Carol was four years old, her mother started teaching her music theory and elementary piano technique, including how to [...]

Vera Wang

Vera Wang was born in 1949, in New York City. The daughter of affluent Chinese immigrants, growing up on Manhattan's Upper East Side. A talented figure skater, Vera competed professionally throughout her teens. Upon her graduation from college, Vera began working [...]

Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir was born in Paris in 1908. She was intellectually precocious, fuelled by her father's encouragement; he reportedly would boast, "Simone thinks like a man!" Studying mathematics and literature/languages at private colleges, she completed her degree in Philosophy at [...]

Dr Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey was born in San Francisco in 1932 and trained as an occupational therapist. In 1963 she took a brief trip to Africa, where she met the anthropologist Louis Leakey and had her first glimpse of mountain gorillas. Leakey persuaded [...]

Sophia Loren

Sophia was born in Rome in 1934 in a charity ward for unwed mothers. Her father, Riccardo Scicolone, refused to marry her mother Romilda, leaving her with no support and refusing to allow Sophia's sister to take his last name. The [...]

Faith Thomas

Faith Thomas was the first indigenous woman selected to play any sport for Australia. Faith was born in the Nepabunna Aboriginal mission in South Australia in 1933. Her mother, Ivy, was a traditional Adnyamathana woman from the Flinders Ranges, her father [...]

Ursula K Le Guin

Ursula was born in 1929 in California. Her father was an anthropologist and her mother was a writer. Having earned a Master's degree in French, she began doctoral studies, but abandoned these after her 1953 marriage to historian Charles Le Guin, [...]

Joan Armatrading

Joan Armatrading was born in 1950 in Basseterre on the Caribbean island of Saint Kitts, the third of six children. When she was three years old, her parents moved with their two eldest boys to Birmingham, England, while Joan was sent to live with her [...]

Margaret Fulton

Born in Scotland in 1924, Margaret's parents emigrated to Australia when she was 3 years old. She began as a cooking teacher at the Overseas Corporation in 1947 and was later promoted to sales manager. Gaining a reputation as a Home [...]

Julia Child

Julia McWilliams was born in California in 1912. At six feet, two inches (1.88m) tall, she played tennis, golf, and basketball as a youth and at Smith College, from which she graduated in with a major in History. Julia did not [...]

Susan Ryan

Born in Sydney in 1942, Susan Ryan graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts, followed by a Master of Arts in English Literature from the ANU. Following graduation she served as a delegate to the ACT Labor [...]

Danielle Steel

Danielle Schuelein-Steel was born in New York City in 1947, and spent much of her childhood in France. Danielle started writing stories as a child, and by her late teens had begun writing poetry. From an early age she was included [...]

Dame Carol Kidu

Carol Millwater was born in Brisbane in 1948. Originally trained as a teacher, Carol’s life was transformed when she met her future husband Buri Kidu, a young boy on a colonial scholarship from Papua New Guinea, on a school camp in [...]

Mary Blair

Artist, animator, and designer Mary Blair was born in Oklahoma 1911. Her first professional job in the animation industry was as an animator with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, afterwards joining her husband Lee Blair at the Ub Iwerks studio. In the 1930s she was [...]

Rachel Carson

Perhaps the finest nature writer of the Twentieth Century, Rachel Carson is remembered more today as the woman who challenged the notion that humans could obtain mastery over nature by chemicals, bombs and space travel than for her studies of ocean life. [...]

Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy was born in Dublin in 1939, the oldest of the four children. She went on to study at University College Dublin (where she earned a bachelor's degree in history), worked as a teacher of French, Latin, and history at [...]

Coco Chanel

Gabrielle Chanel was born into poverty in the Loire Valley of France in 1883. When her mother died when she was 12, her father sent his two sons to work as farm labourers and his three daughters to a convent. It [...]

Margaret Preston

Born Margaret McPherson in Port Adelaide in 1875, Margaret moved to Melbourne in 1893 where she studied at the National Gallery of Victoria School of Arts under the painter Fredrick McCubbin and Director, Bernard Hall. In 1904 she travelled to Europe [...]

Gloria Steinem

Born in Ohio in 1934, Gloria had an unsettled childhood, living in a trailer from which her father carried out his trade as a roaming antiques dealer, attending school sporadically until she was 11. Before Gloria was born, her mother had [...]

Dr Grace Hopper

Called the "queen of code" and "mother of computing", Grace Hopper was one of the world’s first computer programmers. Hopper attained a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale University and was a professor of mathematics at Vassar College. When she attempted to [...]

Wilma Mankiller

In 1983, Wilma Mankiller was elected the first woman chief of the Cherokee Nation – the first woman ever to serve as chief of a major Native American tribe. Her last name, Mankiller derives from the high military rank achieved by [...]

Quentin Bryce

The second of four daughters, Quentin Bryce grew up in the small town of Ilfracombe, near Longreach, where all of the children in her family were home-schooled. Later moving to Brisbane, Quentin met her future husband Michael at school (they were [...]

Dame Judi Dench

Judi Dench has developed a reputation as one of the greatest British actresses of the post-war period, primarily through her work in theatre, and later films. Judi Dench was born in Yorkshire in 1934. She attended a Quaker school in York [...]

Susan Alberti

Businesswoman, philanthropist and women’s football pioneer Susan Alberti was named the 2018 Victorian of the Year. A defining moment in Susan's life was her journey to New York to collect her daughter Danielle who was suffering severe complications from type 1 [...]

Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen got her big debut as a comedian in 1986 aged 28, on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson after working in standup for a few years and making regular appearances on the talk show circuit. Finding success as an actress [...]

Amelia Earhart

Born in 1897, Amelia Earhart was an American aviation pioneer, feminist and author. Aged 23, she visited an airfield with her father where Frank Hawks gave her a ride that would change her life. "By the time I had got two [...]

Pat O’Shane

Trailblazer Pat O'Shane's life is full of "firsts" - the first female Aboriginal teacher in Queensland; the first Aboriginal to earn a law degree; the first Aboriginal barrister; and the first woman and indigenous person to be the head of a [...]

Melissa Fleming

As Head of Communications and chief spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Melissa Fleming works to drive empathy and generate support for the world’s 65 million refugees and displaced people. Prior to working for the UNHCR, she served [...]

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi is an 89 year old Japanese contemporary artist who works primarily in sculpture and installation, but is also active in painting,  performance, film, fashion, poetry and fiction. She has been acknowledged as one of the most important living artists to [...]

Cecilia Payne

British born Cecilia Payne is the reason we know basically anything about variable stars (stars whose brightness as seen from earth fluctuates) as literally every other study on variable stars is based on her work. Cecilia won a scholarship to Cambridge [...]

Susan Kiefel

In January 2017, Susan Kiefel was sworn in as the first woman to serve as Chief Justice of Australia. That she came into the law without any prior social or family connection, marked her as an outlier in the upper echelons [...]

Amy Tan

Born in the US to immigrant parents from China, Amy Tan grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. At age 15, she lost her older brother and father, both to brain tumours within six months of each other. Believing they [...]

Olga Korbut

As a young gymnast from Belarus, Olga Korbut was nicknamed the "Sparrow from Minsk", winning four gold medals and two silver medals at the Summer Olympic Games, in 1972 and 1976 for the Soviet team. She also won an individual gold [...]

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