Vale Jill Roe
Vale Jill Roe


Vale Jill Roe

The university community, alumni and friends came together on Monday 20 February to celebrate the life of Emeritus Professor Jill Roe, one of the university’s founding tutors (and later professor), who died earlier this year.

Jillian Roe AO was born in 1940 in Tumby Bay, SA, a small farming town where her father was a farmer and her mother a nurse. 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.

In 1967, Jill became a founding member of staff at Macquarie University, where she taught British Australian and social policy history. She also served on many committees, within the discipline and more widely. In 1984, she became a member of the Board of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, of which she was President from 1996 through to 2006; she wrote 19 major entries and was Editor of the 2005 Supplement.

After 36 years of service at Macquarie University, having mentored and inspired generations of students, particularly in the areas of Australian history, women’s history and historical biography, Jill retired from teaching, where she was named Professor Emerita. In 2007 she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for services to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, also the Australian Historical Association. In 2013, Macquarie University awarded her the Higher Degree of Doctor of Letters.

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), 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. She was also the author of Our Fathers Cleared the Bush. Remembering Eyre Peninsula (2016), re-visiting her mid-century childhood growing up on South Australia’s west coast.

A number of former students attended her funeral and the memorial, including Dr Naomi Parry and Professor Melanie Oppenheimer, along with other founding staff members, including Emeritus Professor Edwin Judge, as well as a large number of colleagues from Macquarie.

Comments (4)

  1. Michelle Cavanagh

    The death of Jill Roe AO was such a sad loss.
    Jill was one of my lecturers during my studies at Macquarie University as a mature age student. Jill was a great inspiration to me and wrote the foreword for my book ‘Margaret Holmes The Life and Times of an Australian Peace Campaigner’.
    It was such a pleasure to have known Jill, and to have the opportunity to celebrate her life together with many others who attended her packed funeral in Pearl Beach.
    Jill will be sorely missed; she was a talented historian, a great feminist, a wonderful Australian and much much more. I’m proud to have know her as a friend.

  2. Margery Street

    Jill was a fine person whom I met at Pearl Beach. Some years ago Jill had been scheduled to speak at a public Macquarie University Library Friends talk but was delayed overseas. It was a sad surprise to hear of her passing. Would it be possible to let the alumni know in advance, so we can share the celebration of loved and admired persons’ lives?

  3. Gillian Marie

    I have just found this post and found out that Jill died a year ago. I am feeling her loss immensely. She was my lecturer in British History at Macquarie back in 1970 and was an inspiration-as a teacher, an historian, a socialist, a feminist, an activist and a friend. Always encouraging, she expected the best from her students and helped them to shine. She was a “real beauty” and I will miss her terribly. My heartfelt condolences to her partner and friends.


Submit a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>