Ileen Macpherson
Ileen Macpherson

Ileen (Edith Ileen) Macpherson(1894-1985) was born in St. Kilda. She attended Clyde School in Melbourne, excelling in sports, as well as academics. In 1933 she met Ernesto Genoni, her life partner. Ernesto had met Rudolf Steiner in Dornach in 1920, and together he and Ileen pioneered biodynamic farming in Australia through the establishment of their Demeter farm in Dandenong (now the site of Springvale Botanical Cemetery). The farm ran from approximately 1934-1954. Ileen had become ill during this time, and was confined to a wheel chair for the remainder of her life. On her death, Ileen bestowed the bulk of her estate to the furthering of Anthroposophy in Australia. After Ernesto’s death in 1975, her close friend and niece Peggy became her devoted carer. Following Ileen’s death, Peggy set up a trust to honour her wishes and her life’s work.

Peggy (Mary Constance) Macpherson(1910-2015) was born on a property in Berrigan, in the New South Wales Riverina. She lived a full life, reaching the age of 105. Peggy spent her career as a child nurse in Melbourne. In 1939 she undertook study at the Goetheanum in Dornach, with her aunt Ruby Macpherson (1881-1961). Ruby was the matriarch of the extended family, and instrumental in nurturing Ileen Macpherson’s relationship with Ernesto in the 1930s. In 1962 Peggy formally joined the anthroposophical study group set up by Ernesto and Anne Macky in 1928, the Michael Group. An active member, she brought speakers out and, among other things, laid the ground work for the establishment of the Melbourne Rudolf Steiner School in Warranwood in 1972. Peggy enjoyed a lifelong close relationship with her aunt Ileen, and wished to preserve her legacy.

The Macpherson family legacy. 

From a pastoralist family with a large tranche of land in New South Wales, the three Macphersons, Peggy, Ileen and Ruby were actively involved in supporting the study, dissemination and dissemination of Anthroposophy in Australia for a period spanning over 80 years. This work continues into the present through the Ileen Macpherson Trust.

Sources:

Steiner school pioneer Peggy Macpherson was inspired by her nursing of children.Sydney Morning Herald, 16 November, 2015.

Ileen Macpherson: Life and tragedy of a pioneer of biodynamic farming at Demeter Farm and a benefactor of Anthroposophy in Australia, John Paull

Ernesto Genoni: Australia’s pioneer of biodynamic agriculture, John Paull

Anne Macky: A radical in her time, Betty O’Brian

‘Embodied knowing’: exploring the founding of the Melbourne Rudolf Steiner School in 1970s Victoria, Australia,Tao Bak