Woman Carey, Hilary Mary (1957 - )

Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Alternative Names
  • Beange, Hilary Mary (Maiden)

Written by Sharon M. Harrison, The University of Melbourne

Hilary Carey is a leader in the history profession who has contributed to the history of religion and imperialism, religion in Australia and the history of astrology. She has gained international recognition for her work on both medieval and modern history and has also made a major contribution to studies of Indigenous cultures and belief systems during the colonial era through painstaking and imaginative work on the linguistic records of colonial missionaries.

Carey was born in 1957 in Perth, Western Australia. She was one of six children - and the only girl - born to Guy Alexander Beange RAN, DSC, a naval aviator, and Helen Beange (née Flynn), a doctor who was awarded the Order of Australia for services to intellectual disability medicine in 2004. She was educated at Loreto Convents in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney before attending the University of Sydney where she graduated with a BA (Hons) with double First-Class Honours in English and History in 1980. She won a Commonwealth Scholarship to the University of Oxford where she attended Balliol College and studied under John D. North. Her Dphil thesis was published by Macmillan in 1992 as Courting Disaster: Astrology at the English Court and University in the Later Middle Ages.

Returning to Australia, Carey completed histories of the Catholic Women's League in the Catholic archdiocese of Sydney and the Mater Misericordiae Hospital at North Sydney and began her long-term engagement with Australian religious history. She was a founding member of the Professional Historians Association NSW and worked as a research assistant for the Australian Dictionary of Biography. She taught Australian history and women's history at Macquarie University and medieval history at the University of Sydney before joining the History Department of the University of Newcastle, where at first she was the only woman, in 1991.

Carey is primarily a religious historian whose most influential work reinterprets the role of religion in nineteenth-century imperial history. She published Believing in Australia (1992) and from 1996 to 2000 served as Editor of the Journal of Religious History. From 2004 to 2006 she was Keith Cameron Professor of Australian History at University College Dublin, an experience reflected in her edited collections, Empires of Religion (2008) and Church and State in Old and New Worlds, co-edited with John Gascoigne (2011). Her most ambitious work to date has been God's Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2011), a groundbreaking history of the colonial missionary movement, which was short-listed for the 2012 Ernest Scott Prize.

Carey was elected Fellow of the Academy of Humanities in Australia in 2012 and was President of the Religious History Association from 2011 to 2013. From 2014, she will be Professor of Imperial and Religious History and Head of the School of Humanities at the University of Bristol.

Additional sources: Personal communication between Hilary Mary Carey and Patricia Grimshaw August 2013.

Published Resources

Journal Articles

  • Carey, Hilary M., 'Companions in the Wilderness? Missionary Wives in Colonial Australia, 1788-1900', Journal of Religious History, vol. 19, no. 2, 1995, pp. 227-43. Details

Online Resources

See also