Dame Elisabeth Murdoch
Education and Marriage
Murdoch was born Elisabeth Joy Greene in Melbourne to an Australian mother and an upper-class father from England. She was educated at St Catherine's School in Melbourne and at Clyde School. When she was 18, Keith Murdoch, already at the head of a substantial media empire, and 23 years her senior, saw her photo in one of his newspapers and decided that he woudl pursue a courtship. They married soon after in 1928. When he was knighted for his service to journalism, she became Lady Murdoch and retained that title until she was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1963. With Sir Keith Murdoch, she had four children, including Rupert Murdoch, now head of the Murdoch media empire.
Murdoch retains a substantial stake in the Murdoch family's media businesses and uses the proceeds to fund her extensive donations to charity. She is said to have considerable influence with her son Rupert Murdoch, which she usually exercises in the direction of moderation. She is known to have disapproved of the behaviour of some of his British tabloid newspapers and, as a result, Rupert is reputed to have reined in some of their sexual content.
Dame Elisabeth Murdoch dedicated her life to philanthropic activity. Murdoch served as president of the Royal Children’s Hospital management committee from 1954 to 1965. In 1968 she become the first woman on the Council of Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria. She held the position for eight years. In 1976 she co-founded the Victorian Tapestry Workshop, and served as its Chairman from 1986-88. Dame Elisabeth's philanthropic activities continued throughout her varied career, and in 1984 she was a founding member of the Murdoch Institute (known today as the Murdoch Children's Research Institute). Murdoch is a life-governor of the Royal Women's Hospital. She is Patron of the Murdoch Children's Research Institute and of the Australian American Association (Victoria), founded by her husband. She was a founding member of the Deafness Foundation of Victoria. An honorary fellow of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architecture, she funded and helped to establish the Elisabeth Murdoch Chair of Landscape Architecture and the Australian Garden History Society. In 1968 she was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws by the University of Melbourne in acknowledgement of her contributions to research, the arts and philanthropy.