HerStory

Julia Margaret GUERIN

Also known as: Bella

Born: 23/4/1858

Died: 26/7/1923

Special Achievements:

Bella Guerin was Australia's first woman university graduate, awarded Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from the University of Melbourne in 1883. In 1881 with three other female students, they had become the first women amongst the 342 men admitted to the University for the first time on equal terms with male students. Upon graduation the Melbourne Punch ran a cartoon pointing out she was beautiful despite her intelligence.

In 1885, she received her Master of Arts Degree.

Additional Information:

After graduation, Bella Guerin worked in a number of teaching positions, and was lady principal of Ballarat School of Mines university classes, resigning upon marriage to Henry Halloran. After his death in 1893, and now with an infant son, she returned to teaching from financial necessity. From the mid-1890s she frequented suffragette circles becoming office bearer in the Bendigo Women's Franchise League and, later, vice-president of the Women's Political Association in 1912-1913. Bella Guerin co-authored Vida Goldstein's 1913 Senate election pamphlet. From 1914 she wrote and spoke for the Labor and Victorian Socialist parties and the Women's League of Socialists, commenting on a range of controversial issues, including the rights of illegitimate children, 'brotherhood and sisterhood without sex distinction' and defence of English militant suffragettes. She was also an ardent anti-war campaigner. In March 1918, Bella Guerin was appointed vice-president of the Labor Party's Women's Central Organising Committee.


Resources

  • Image - Guerin, Bella, first woman graduate in Australia

    Black and white photograph of first woman graduate in Australia, Bella Guerin in academic dress on day of graduation. Bella gained her B.A from University of Melbourne in December 1883, becoming M.A. upon application in 1885

    Julia Margaret (Bella) Halloran, nee Guerin, c. 1895, University of Melbourne Photographs Collection, University of Melbourne Archives, 2011.0089.00002


  • Image - Bella Guerin

    Digital copy of a portrait photograph of Bella Guerin. Photographer: T. Humphrey & Co., undated.

    Julia Margaret (Bella) Halloran, nee Guerin, University of Melbourne Photographs Collection, University of Melbourne Archives, 2011.0089.00004


  • Image - Julia Margaret (Bella) Halloran, nee Guerin

    Photograph of Bella Halloran (nee Guerin) with her son Henry

    Julia Margaret (Bella) Halloran, nee Guerin, c. 1895, University of Melbourne Photographs Collection, University of Melbourne Archives, 2011.0089.00001