Huldah M Turner
(1906 – 2006)
Huldah Mary Turner was born in 1906, the daughter of Alfred and Esther Sneddon. She grew up in the Tamworth district with a younger sister.
She was educated in bush schools in the area and gained a bursary as a boarder at a Dominican high school. It was during this time that the nuns gave her a thorough grounding in, and appreciation of literature, art and music.
With honours in her Leaving Certificate, Huldah was awarded an Exhibition to do medicine at Sydney University. Unfortunately her monetary situation prevented her pursuing it. Instead she studied Arts, which included among other subjects, philosophy, oriental religion and psychology. She was one of the few women to gain a degree from Sydney University in the 1920s. She obtained her Dip Ed and received her masters degree with a thesis on James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. She also gained a Licentiate Art of Speech. A copy of her thesis was kindly donated by her family and is held in Cultural Collections.
It was while she was studying Finnegans Wake that she was employed as a teacher at North Sydney Girls’ High School. She taught a range of subjects which included Art, Latin, Music, Maths, Cultural Geography, French and PE. She also served as a Teacher/Librarian, School counsellor and Careers Advisor.
Throughout her career Huldah was disadvantaged for being a woman. Men were moved or promoted over her and received more pay. She couldn’t marry or she would have lost her job.
Eventually she was recognized for her integrity and excellence. She became subject mistress at North Sydney Girls’ High School. Later she joined the staff at Newcastle Teachers’ college. Huldah was the first woman in NSW to become Vice Principal and Acting Principal of a teachers’ College. She was also the first woman on the Council of the University of Newcastle.
At the age of 52 Huldah married Joseph Turner, a widower with four children. They were married for 41 years. During their travels throughout Australia she was inspired to write poems which were published in a book in 1997.
Huldah was a fine violinist and played chamber music in Newcastle for many years. She was a foundation member of one of the earliest book clubs established in the city. She mastered skills in screen-printing, pottery, sketching, needlework and knitting.
Huldah Turner passed away on 30 March 2006.
2006. Pioneer scholar brought joys of Joyce to many. Sydney Morning Herald 16 June