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Everything is Possible to Will

A Conclusion — "Intelligence is bound to revolutionise the world" (235)

A Conclusion

"Intelligence is bound to revolutionise the world" (235)

Unconventional, assertive, and a polarising character assured of her own opinions, Ellen Ellis found it difficult to recognise that her ideas and behaviour alienated her from both the Auckland public and members of her own family. As a public agitator, she consistently pushed the boundaries of convention in all aspects of her life: from refusing to wear ‘mourning dress’ after her husband’s death, to organising political public meetings to discuss the contentious Contagious Diseases Act. It is impressive that Ellis, as an intellectual denied the right to an academic education, took such strides to not only educate herself, but to actively engage in trying to improve the position of women overall. She truly embodied her own 1882 maxim: “prayer [is] all very well, but to do any good woman must act.”81 Everything is Possible to Will is Ellen Ellis’s ultimate act of defiance in a society who expected her to remain silent.

Although there are glimpses of writing talent in Everything is Possible to Will, the novel tends to stray away from its plot into long, convoluted passages of prosaic moral prose, which may easily discourage a modern reader. It does, however, provide both historically important information of a colonial family living in Auckland, and an impressive survey of Ellen Ellis’s wide and varied humanitarian, and some surprisingly modern, ideals. In her effort to provoke thought, discussion and to “set women thinking” (70), Everything is Possible to Will should remain considered as a significant pioneer feminist and prohibitionist text in New Zealand’s literary oeuvre, and Ellen Ellis herself a vital pioneer who fought valiantly to have her voice heard.

81 "Mrs Hampson." Southland Times.16 August 1882: 2.