Dr Winifred Vere HOLE, MA Hon. PhD London
1941 - 1944
Sociologist and Author
DR WINIFRED VERE HOLE was the only child of Ralph Vere Hole and Blanche Young, who had settled in the Coonamble district in the 1900s. For her first fourteen years, her formal education was from the Blackfriars Correspondence School. Vere had a passionate love of the outback, and was not terribly happy when sent to school in Sydney at PLC, Pymble. She enrolled at Sydney University and came to College in 1941.
Vere spoke of her years at College with great affection. She was involved in all sorts of College activities – in revues, in editing the magazine, etc. She said once that her great joy in seeing the College for the first time was observing the students in stu-vac, studying in the sun in their swimsuits. This, decided Vere, was real academic freedom.
Her university career was a series of successes. She received honours in English, the University Medal in Anthropology, and an Honours MA. She also managed to learn Spanish and some Russian on the side. Moreover, she had a high reputation as a history scholar. With Anne Treweeke, Vere co-authored the book on the history of the Women’s College.
In 1953 Vere sailed for Britain. She had always longed to travel. She had also found that opportunities at Sydney University for women in academic life were limited. She joined the Civil Service in London, and stayed for thirty years in the Department of the Environment, Building and Research Establishment. Her interests now extended to the discipline of Sociology. She completed a thesis and was awarded a Doctorate from London University at the London School of Economics.
From 1987 until her death in 1992, Vere contributed to the life of the College in many ways. She was a major contributor to the book Letters from Louisa based on letters from Louisa Macdonald, (founding principal of the Women’s College) to her friend Eleanor Grove, (founding principal of College Hall, University of London). Vere did not live to complete the project – [it was completed by Jeanette Beaumont and published after Vere’s death].
Vere’s feminism was always positive. She had no sense of grievance, although in her early years she had had to struggle against the disadvantages accorded to her sex (one could never say ‘gender’ to Vere!) – and in later years against ill-health. She has left to many of us who knew her, or who have read her work, a sense of history, a sense of fun, and a sense of the old values of the Australian outback.
Extracts from article by Jeanette Beaumont, Women’s College Journal, 1993