Woman Roe, Jillian (Jill) Isobel (1940 - )

Magarey Medalist

Tumby Bay, South Australia, Australia

Written by Susan Foley and Charles Sowerwine, The University of Melbourne

Jillian Isobel Roe was born in 1940 in Tumby Bay, SA, a small farming town where her father was a farmer and her mother a nurse. Her mother died before she reached her second birthday. After finishing school at Adelaide Girls' High School, she studied history at the University of Adelaide and then proceeded in 1963 to the ANU, where she wrote her MA under the supervision of Don Baker and Manning Clark. Her thesis, A decade of assessment: being a study in the intellectual life of the city of Melbourne between 1876 and 1886, was the basis of her first major book, Marvellous Melbourne: The Emergence of an Australian City (1974). In 1967, Roe took up a position as Lecturer in History at Macquarie University, where she made her career, retiring in 2003, when she was named Professor Emerita. In 1984, she became a member of the Board of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, of which she was President from 1996 through 2006; she wrote 19 major entries and was Editor of the 2005 Supplement. In 1991, she was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Social Sciences. In 1994-95, she was Visiting Professor of Australian Studies at Harvard University. She was President of the Australian Historical Association (1999-2000, 2001-2002), President of the History Council of New South Wales (2007-2008), and Director of the Centre for the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature (2005-2010). Among the works which established her as a leader in women's history in Australia are Beyond Belief: Theosophy in Australia 1879-1939 (1986) and her definitive biography of Miles Franklin, Stella Miles Franklin: A Biography (2008; US edition: Her Brilliant Career: The Life of Stella Miles Franklin, 2009), which won the Magarey Medal for Biography, the SA Premier's Non-Fiction Prize, and the award for best Historical Book in the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards. In 2013, Macquarie University granted her the Higher Degree of Doctor of Letters.

Additional sources: 'ROE, Jill', in Who's Who in Australia.

Published Resources

Book Sections

  • Roe, Jill, 'First Matriculate', in Madge Dawson and Heather Radi (eds), Against the odds: fifteen professional women reflect on their lives and careers, 1984, pp. 232-239. Details

Online Resources

See also