Elsie Roughsey was born at Goonana on Mornington Island. She lived with her parents until the age of eight, when she was placed in the local mission school. She lived there until the second World War. When the missionaries were evacuated during the war, she returned to her family in the bush. In 1946 she married Dick Roughsey (q.v.), then a stockman but later an artist and author. She subsequently worked as a nursing aide, teacher's assistant and volountary community worker on Mornington Island. She also became well-known as a maker of cottonwood dolls. In 1980, she collaborated on the book The Sweetness of the Fig : Aboriginal Women in Transition with Virginia Huffer.
Some sources, including TheOxford Companion to Australian Literature (1985), have incorrectly stated that Elsie Roughsey died in 1985. She died, however, in 2000.
Major source : David Horton (ed.) The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia : Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History, Society and Culture (1994).