World of Mab Grimwade

Head and shoulders portrait of young woman in wide brim hat and pearls
Portrait of Mab Grimwade


Lady Grimwade, born Mabel Kelly and known as Mab, was born in 1887 to George and Agnes Kelly. Mab’s early years were spent in Melbourne, before her family moved to Scotland. Mab attended a French school in Edinburgh as a weekday boarder and during these years the family travelled more broadly in Europe. Following their return to Australia a few years’ later, Mab and her younger brothers Charles and Dalziel finished their schooling and took advantage of sporting and social opportunities in Melbourne.

In 1909, aged 22, Mab married Russell Grimwade and soon after the couple settled in their new home, ‘Miegunyah’ in Toorak. Their life together centred around their families, their home and garden, their travels, Russell’s work and their support for a range of causes.

Russell died in 1955. Mab continued to live at Miegunyah, supported by staff members and her extended family. Mab continued with her care for her home and garden, travelled internationally and later in life attended fine arts lectures at the University of Melbourne. She also continued the couple’s philanthropy. In particular, Mab was actively involved in the opening of the Russell Grimwade School of Biochemistry at the University of Melbourne and was a significant donor to the National Art Gallery and Cultural Centre on St Kilda Rd, now known as the Melbourne Arts Precinct and Arts Centre Melbourne in Southbank.

In 1973, Mab died, leaving their family home ‘Miegunyah’ and their collection of art, books, furniture and personal papers to the University of Melbourne, in accordance with her and Russell’s wishes to continue their support for the institution.


The Sir Russell and Lady Grimwade Papers in the University of Melbourne Archives include correspondence, books, photographs, newspaper clippings and ephemera. The Grimwade Collection held at the Ian Potter Museum of Art comprises over 700 works of art.

Together, these collections provide insights into life in 20th century Melbourne, art, culture, philanthropy, business and travel, and also a glimpse into the world of Mabel, Lady Grimwade