Marjorie Laura Weaver (1899-1964)

Marjorie Weaver, Age, 7 April 1951.

Marjorie Laura Weaver (1899-1964)

Marjorie Laura Weaver was the only child of English journalist Samuel John Pryor and his American wife Laura Wills. She was born in London in August 1899.

Until her departure for Australia in 1925, Marjorie lived with her parents at 2 The Grove, Highgate, a street well known over a long period for notable residents such as poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, playwright J.B. Priestley, spy Sir Anthony Blunt, violinist Yehudi Menuhin, actors Robert Donat and Gladys Cooper.

Journalism played a huge role in Marjorie Weaver’s life. Her father, Samuel Pryor, was the first Press Secretary for the British Royal Family at Buckingham Palace. He then worked as a journalist in Kingston, Jamaica and later in the United States before returning to England in 1896 where he worked for various newspapers. His final position was as day editor and director of the London Times. He retired in 1918 and died in 1924 when Marjorie was twenty-five.

Marjorie Pryor’s future husband Donald Hasell Weaver, also a journalist, served in the Essex Regiment during World War One, during which time he married. This marriage failed and at some stage before his departure for Australia, Weaver resided with the Pryor family in Highgate.

Donald Weaver sailed for Melbourne as a 3rd class passenger in May 1924. His first byline for the Melbourne Herald appeared in September 1924 in a series of articles describing the experience of travelling steerage. He did it, he claimed, to get first hand knowledge of a migrant’s experience. A year later, in May 1925, Marjorie Pryor and her mother Laura made their way to Melbourne where they joined Donald.

Marjorie and Donald married in Adelaide in December 1928. A month later they commissioned architect Keith Cheetham to design a single story brick house ‘Treetops’, their home in Eltham for at least a decade.

In June 1929, Marjorie Weaver joined the Historical Society of Victoria. Her membership was short-lived (she resigned in 1933), probably because of increasing family responsibilities. Her husband had a busy journalistic career that included the editorship of The Listener In and Australian Home Beautiful as well as Table Talk. Her mother, who lived with them, was growing older and died in 1938. And she was now the busy mother of two boys, born in the 1930s.

After Laura Pryor’s death, the Weaver family moved to the Melbourne suburb of Brighton where Marjorie began to write (and publish) fiction based on her experiences as a migrant and also drew on her knowledge of the world of journalism. Herald journalist Rohan Rivett described her first novel, Trusting Journey, as a ‘breezy Australian novel’. Another eight were to follow, some with historical themes, the last published in 1959.

In 1951, Marjorie and Donald Weaver took their sons on a six month holiday to Britain. On her return, she wrote an article for the Herald newspaper that showed that her interest in history, in particular the history of domestic life, was still strong. The article, ‘Why not a museum of home life?’ drew on an exhibition of kitchens through the years that she had visited during her time abroad. These were ‘assembled and grouped naturally, as if they were in actual use’, she said, and argued that Australia should do something similar ‘before many interesting relics are thrown into the dustbin.’

In her three years of research for her book, she said, she had consulted newspapers and magazines, searching for details of social customs, dress and modes of living. She argued for the importance of building a collection of ephemera – of pamphlets, tourist literature, menu cards, theatre programmes and notes on food and prices – as a means of providing a valuable picture of the times.

‘It’s not too late’, she asserted, ‘to begin with our own time.’ Modern thinking, indeed, for the early 1950s.

In 1953, the Weaver family returned to England. Marjorie Weaver died at Guildford, Surrey on 4 September 1964. Her husband died in 1978.

Cheryl Griffin, November 2021


List of published fiction:

1949 Trusting journey
1951 Time to forget
1952 Nevermore alone
1955 Romantic journey
1956 Time off for love
1957 Hope against hope
1957 Wanted on the voyage
1958 No blameless life
1959 The recovered past



RHSV Archives, Membership records.
Architectural drawing dated 6 January 1929, LTAD162/204, State Library of Victoria.
Westminster Baptisms
UK Census records
UK Shipping records
UK Probate indexes
Transcript of marriage certificate, Adelaide, 17 December 1928, available on Findmypast.
Victorian electoral rolls
Victorian Death index
Who’s Who Australia, 1935, p. 380.
Argus, 5 December 1934, 17 June 1938.
Herald, 22 September 1937, 8 October 1949, 24 March 1951, 7 April 1951, 4 October 1951, 22 October 1952
‘In Praise of the Typewriter: The Early Days of American News Agencies’, Robert Messenger, 7 May 2021