By John Burbidge

Please Forward

The Life of Liza Tod

“A child of the empire, a woman of the world” was how one person described her.

Growing up in England ravaged by World War One, Liza Tod married an army engineer, lived through the last days of the British Raj in India, and raised a family in the midst of World War Two. Then at 62, her children dispersed and her husband of 40 years deceased, Liza made a momentous decision…

A Woman of the World

Determined to recreate her identity as a single woman, she traveled to Australia, met an extraordinary group of people dedicated to a life of service, and decided to join them. Her time with the Institute of Cultural Affairs deeply challenged her notions of who she was and what she could do. From fundraising in the corporate world to traipsing through Asian villages, Liza was a inspiration to all who encountered her.

At the urging of friends and colleagues, Liza welcomed the chance to share some of the wealth of her experiences and reflections in this book, which spans her 87 years and 39 ‘semi-permanent’ homes in seven countries.

Liza Tod

Tributes to Liza Tod

Liza gave us younger ones beautiful images of growing old with a mission. Her humor and nonchalance gave a boost to everyone. She gave great dignity to the term ‘a lady’. She was Lady Liza.
     — Lynda Cock

Liza and I were on a breakfast team charged with making 650 Eggs Benedict. The kitchen was as hot as blue blazes and a madhouse of activity. In the middle of it all, Liza turned to me and said, “And to think, my daughter gets upset about a dinner party for twenty. Wait till I tell her about  this!”
     — Sandy Conant-Strachan

Liza always impressed me as a true world citizen who identified with her own background and upbringing, yet had experienced many other places and cultures. She was appreciative of these differences and was willing to integrate their ‘otherness’ into her own realm of reference.
       — Maria Maguire

Liza was unassuming yet willing to offer her skills and graces when needed, most profitably in raising money for ICA community development projects. Our fundraisers regarded her as their secret weapon. People warmed to this lovely old lady, only to discover that at the appropriate moment she could pack a completely unexpected and deadly punch.
     — Brian Robins

Although Liza was a unique woman, she was like a wonderful ‘Aunty Mame’ for us all. She will always be my role model of a woman with style — the kind of woman who stands tall, speaks her mind, and loves the new.
     — Maxine Manning

Liza once said that there are two types of people — those who like dry sherry and those who don’t. Fortunately, I was one who did. She entertained and impressed many of our donors over sherry in the wonderful lounge of the ICA’s Melbourne House.   
Ann Yallop

Other Books

Beyond Prince and Merchant

A seminal publication on the concept of civil society and its rise as a pivotal force for social change in today’s global society.

Dare Me!

The acclaimed biography of an author whose audacious life and provocative writing pushed the boundaries of acceptability in 20th century Australia.

The Boatman

The gripping memoir of a foreign volunteer who goes to India to help others and discovers an entire part of himself he never knew existed.


A crisis means a change of direction, a rethink. Perhaps a change of standards or lifestyle. It’s your attitude to a crisis that counts. Go to meet a crisis and it fades visibly. Run away from a crisis and it grows bigger with every step you take.

– liza tod

India in the 1930s

Liza met Dick Tod in Baluchistan (now Pakistan) in 1931 and they married the following year. In 1940 he became Military Advisor to five princely states, one of which was Faridkot in today’s Punjab. Liza and her children often accompanied Dick on his travels and were treated as VIPs, as this amusing incident reveals.

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