• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE0619

Fitzpatrick, Kathleen Elizabeth

(1905 – 1990)
  • Born 7 September, 1905, Omeo Victoria Australia
  • Died 27 August, 1990, Melbourne Victoria Australia
  • Occupation Associate professor, Author, Historian


Appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for her service to education, particularly in the field of history, on 26 January 1989, Kathleen Fitzpatrick was the first woman council member of the National Library of Australia, and a foundation member of the Australian Humanities Research Council (later the Australian Academy of Humanities).


Fitzpatrick was educated at Loreto Convents (Albert Park and Portland), Presentation Convent (Windsor) and Lauriston Girls’ School (Melbourne) before attending the University of Melbourne. Following completion of her honours degree, in 1926, Fitzpatrick went to Oxford to complete another undergraduate degree – a common practice at the time. Returning to Australia she found employment at the University of Sydney before becoming a tutor in the English department at the University of Melbourne in 1930. Upon marriage, in 1932, to journalist (later historian) Brian Fitzpatrick, she had to resign her position at the University.

Following the failure of her marriage, Fitzpatrick was advised by the University Appointments Board that ‘the only demand for female workers was for good secretaries’. It was recommended that she become proficient in typewriting and shorthand if she wanted to find employment. She enrolled at the Melbourne Technical School (now the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology), completed the required subjects and became a teacher of Shorthand and Commercial English at the school. In 1938 Fitzpatrick was offered her old position at the University of Melbourne. Before retiring in 1962 she held positions of lecturer, senior lecturer and associate professor of history.

During World War II Fitzpatrick was president of the Council for Women in War. She negotiated with employers on behalf of University of Melbourne women students working at Shepparton under Manpower regulations. In her retirement Fitzpatrick concentrated on research and writing and was disappointed in not being able to find a publisher for her magnum opus, a book on the novelist Henry James.

Former student, professional historian and close friend Manning Clark read the eulogy at the Requiem Mass for Kathleen Fitzpatrick held at St Thomas Aquinas, South Yarra on Friday 31 August 1990.



  • 1942 - 1948

    Senior lecturer of History at the University of Melbourne

  • 1938 - 1942

    Lecturer of History at the University of Melbourne

  • 1956 - 1956

    Foundation member of the Australian Humanities Research Council (later Australian Academy of the Humanities)

  • 1930 - 1932

    Tutor in the English department of the University of Melbourne

  • 1929 - 1929

    Temporary lecturer in the history department of the University of Sydney

  • 1935 - 1935

    Separated from her husband

  • 1936 - 1936

    Became a student in the business section of the Melbourne Technical School (now the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) learning typing and shorthand

  • 1937 - 1937

    Teacher of shorthand and commercial English at the Melbourne Technical School

  • 1989 - 1989

    Appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for her service to education, particularly in the field of history

  • 1949 - 1949

    Publication: Sir John Franklin in Tasmania published by Melbourne University Press

  • 1958 - 1958

    Publication: Australian Explorers published by Oxford University Press

  • 1975 - 1975

    Publication: PLC Melbourne: The First Century published by PLC (Melbourne)

  • 1948 - 1962

    Associate Professor of History at the University of Melbourne

  • 1928 - 1928

    Graduated BA from Oxford University

  • 1933 - 1933

    Graduated MA from Oxford University

  • 2032 - 1940

    Married Brian Fitzpatrick a journalist and later historian

  • 1926 - 1926

    Graduated BA (Hons) from the University of Melbourne

  • 1983 - 1983

    Publication: Solid Bluestone Foundations and Other Memories of a Melbourne Childhood, 1908-1928 published by Macmillan

Published resources

  • Book
    • 150 years, 150 stories: brief biographies of one hundred and fifty remarkable people associated with the University of Melbourne, Flesch, Juliet and McPhee, Peter, 2003
    • Australian explorers : a selection from their writings with an introduction, Fitzpatrick, Kathleen, 1905-1990, 1958
    • Martin Boyd, Fitzpatrick, Kathleen, 1905-1990., 1963
    • PLC Melbourne: the first century, 1875-1975, Fitzpatrick, Kathleen, 1905-1990., 1975
    • Sir John Franklin in Tasmania, 1837-1843, Fitzpatrick, Kathleen, 1905-1990.
    • Solid bluestone foundations and other memories of a Melbourne girlhood, 1908-1928, Fitzpatrick, Kathleen, 1905-1990., 1983
    • The letters of Lorna Maneschi to her family in Australia, Maneschi, Lorna., 1999-2000.
    • Melbourne University portraits : they called it "The Shop", Paper-Clip Collective., 1996
    • History for the homeless : Kathleen Fitzpatrick's vocation and ours., 1995
    • Shameful autobiographies : shame in contemporary Australian autobiographies and culture, Dalziell, Rosamund., 1999
    • Women historians and women's history : Kathleen Fitzpatrick (1905-1990), Margaret Kiddle (1914-1958) and the Melbourne History School, Carey, Jane, 1972- and Grimshaw, Patricia, 1938-, 2001
    • The Ballad revival in the XVIIIth century, Pitt, Kathleen Elizabeth, 1925
  • Edited Book
    • The Half-open door : sixteen modern Australian women look at professional life and achievement, Grimshaw, Patricia and Strahan, Lynne, c1982
    • Who's Who of Australian Women, Lofthouse, Andrea, 1982
    • Who's Who in Australia 1950, Alexander, Joseph A, 1950
    • Dear Kathleen, dear Manning : the correspondence of Manning Clark and Kathleen Fitzpatrick 1949-1990, Clark, Manning, 1915-1991., 1996
    • Australian lives: an Oxford anthology, Hooton, Joy W. (Joy Wendy), 1935-, 1998
  • Resource Section
  • Resource
  • Site Exhibition

Archival resources

  • National Library of Australia, Manuscript Collection
    • Papers of Manning Clark, 1907-1992 [manuscript]
  • The University of Melbourne Archives
    • Pitt, Henry Arthur
    • University of Melbourne Department of History
    • University of Melbourne. Department of History
    • Correspondence of Kathleen Fitzpatrick
    • The Half Open Door
    • Fitzpatrick, Kathleen Elizabeth (1905-1990)
  • National Library of Australia
    • [Biographical cuttings on Kathleen Fitzpatrick, writer and historian, containing one or more cuttings from newspapers or journals]

Related entries

  • Membership
    • Lyceum Club (Melbourne) (1912 - )
    • Graduate Women Victoria Inc. (1922 - )
  • Related Women
    • Howe, Renate (1939 - )
  • Related Awards
    • Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowship (2010 - )
  • Related Organisations
    • University Women's College (1936 - 1975)
  • Related Concepts
    • History and Historians