- 9 May 1917
Kew, Victoria, Australia
- 6 May 1979
North Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
- Writer, Teacher and Political activist
The second daughter of Vance and Nettie (née Higgins) Palmer, Helen Palmer spent a year in London after being educated at Presbyterian Ladies' College (Melbourne) where she was dux in 1934. Returning to Melbourne she won a scholarship to the University of Melbourne and graduated with a BA and DipEd in 1939. She later obtained a B.Ed (1952). From 1940 until 1942 she was a teacher in Victorian State schools.
Helen Palmer enlisted in the Women's Australian Auxiliary Air Force on 18 February 1942 and during her service worked in the education division. After the war she worked with the Commonwealth Office of Education (Sydney). In 1948 she returned to Melbourne teaching in private schools.
She made several trips to China and in 1953 published her observations in An Australian Teacher in China. Through the bi-monthly publication Outlook (1957-1970), Helen Palmer provided a forum for vigorous discussion of all issues which were part of a radical critique of Australian politics and society.
The author (with Jessie MacLeod) of First Hundred Years (1954) and After the First Hundred Years (1961), she also authored books on Australian literature, popular culture and history. Helen Palmer was also a prominent poet and balladist and is remembered for 'The Ballard of 1891,' that describes the shearers' strike.
Helen Palmer died on 6 May 1979.
Sources used to compile this entry: Gollan, Robin, 'Palmer, Helen Gwynneth (1917-1979)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A150652b.htm; Radi, Heather (ed.), 200 Australian Women: A Redress Anthology, Women's Redress Press, Sydney, 1988, 258 pp. Also available at http://nla.gov.au/nla.arc-78644.