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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Hain, Gladys Adeline (1887–1962)

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

Gladys Adeline Hain (1887-1962), lawyer, journalist and housewives' association president, was born on 1 July 1887 at West Shelbourne, near Maldon, Victoria, eldest child of John Wightman Taylor, teacher, and his wife Adeline Landsborough, née Nicholl, both Victorian-born. After education at state and private schools at Castlemaine, she studied arts and law at the University of Melbourne (B.A., 1908; LL.B., 1910; M.A., 1912) winning the Bowen prize in 1909. She also qualified for a diploma of education. After serving articles with (Sir) James McCay, she was admitted to the Bar in May 1912 and set up on her own as a solicitor in Melbourne.

On 25 April 1915 at St Martin's Church of England, Hawksburn, she married Reginald (Rex) Edric Hain, a barrister, whom she had first met 'with some indignation' after he had published a skit on one of her political speeches in Melbourne University Magazine, which he edited. A week after their marriage he embarked as a lieutenant in the 23rd Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, serving on Gallipoli and in France before being invalided to England. Gladys sailed for England in 1916 where she did voluntary war work and began writing for a living. Her book of short stories, The Coo-ee Contingent, was published in 1917. The Hains had two daughters; the first was born in England in 1919 and the second in Melbourne in 1921.

Once her children had reached kindergarten age Mrs Hain took up journalism: her husband, never well after the war, did not want her to practise law. She joined the staff of the Argus and Australasian Ltd, becoming social editress of the Star (1933-36) and later of the Argus. She was also for some years Melbourne correspondent for the Tasmanian Mail. With her wide general knowledge and ability of total recall, she proved a talented and successful interviewer; notable subjects included Chico Marx, Harry Lauder and Archbishop Mannix. She wrote articles on art and during World War II acted as music critic for the Argus.

Shortly before her husband's death in 1947 Gladys Hain retired from the Argus but continued to contribute in 1948-53. She resumed her law practice, first as a solicitor and from 1955 as a barrister. At the same time she became more actively involved in women's organizations. As a journalist she had been radical in politics, a 'fighter for the ordinary people'. Just after her marriage she had delivered a paper on the legal status of women to the National Council of Women. In the 1920s she campaigned for standardization of divorce laws in Australia. Over the years she acted as legal adviser to women's groups on such subjects as the adoption of children, prostitution and the problems of venereal disease. Despite her forthright opinions, and capacity to 'get tough if they asked for it', she was described as a softly spoken and gentle woman.

In 1952 Mrs Hain was elected fourth president of the Housewives' Association of Victoria and was for six years federal president of the Federated Housewives' Association of Australia. She campaigned for better conditions for housewives, lobbying producer and government groups for better prices and quality of essential food items such as bread. She was a representative of the Dairy Products' Board and in 1956 was appointed to the royal commission on the Victorian Housing Commission.

Mrs Hain had undergone an operation for cancer and later broke her leg in a street accident. She died in hospital at Carlton on 6 March 1962 and after a service conducted at the College Presbyterian Church, Parkville, was buried with her parents at Campbell's Creek cemetery, near Castlemaine. Her daughters survived her.

Select Bibliography

  • A. M. Norris, Champions of the Impossible (Melb, 1978)
  • Age (Melbourne), 7 Mar 1962
  • Sun-News Pictorial (Melbourne), 7, 8 Mar 1962
  • Herald (Melbourne), 1 May 1954
  • Argus (Melbourne), 23 Dec 1954
  • private information.

Citation details

'Hain, Gladys Adeline (1887–1962)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 24 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

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