Born: Established: 8 Oct 1878 Auburn ; Died: 6 Mar 1942 Pennington
Contact: Mrs Joan Kyffin Willington
Address: 4b Alnwick Terrace
Phone: 8431 1636
Fax: 8431 1634
Maisie was the daughter of Arthur William Smith, an English doctor, and his SA-born but English educated wife Bessie (Elizabeth Susan Kaines). They lived at Auburn in the mid-north of South Australia, where Arthur had a practice. Maisie was one of two children. Her father died of tuberculosis in 1879 when Maisie was three years old, and her mother took the children 'home' to her English in-laws. The three of them were dependent on income meted out by Arthur's family and for some years lived with them in Halifax before moving to London where they lived in rented rooms. Maisie went to Queen Elizabeth School in West Kensington, while her brother Charles won a scholarship to St Paul's School and later to Cambridge. Bessie brought the family to Australia for a year when Maisie was thirteen, to stay with her grandparents, the Kaines family at Halton Brook, Kensington.
After completing her education in England Maisie fell into a social whirl, and after the breaking of a 'disastrous engagement' she set out for Australia on the Arcadia in November 1898 at the age of twenty. She promised her mother that she would write to her every week, which she did, and her letters, now published as the book Maisie, give a fascinating account of her life in South Australia.
Beautiful and flirtatious, Maisie lived with her grandparents and extended family. She travelled 'unchaperoned' to the eastern states, and while in Adelaide lived a very social life during which she met Evan Kyffin Thomas, twelve years her senior, a junior proprietor in the family newspaper The Register. He was the grandson of Mary Thomas and editor of Mary's published diary (The Diary and Letters of Mary Thomas). They became engaged, but before marrying him Maisie returned to England for twelve months as she had promised her mother. In June 1901, in England, Maisie and Evan were married, returning to Adelaide in November 1901. They lived in Partridge Street, Glenelg (now Partridge House) until 1912 and then in Pennington Terrace, North Adelaide. They had three children, Rendel, Archer and Dorothea. Archer was to become the directer of the Herald and Weekly Times and a foundation member of the Australian Press Council.
Maisie and Evan visited England several more times, spending nearly a year there with the children in 1926. Evan died in 1936, and Maisie continued to lead a quiet life until her death in 1942.