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Latham, Eleanor Mary (Ella) (1878 - 1964)

Lady, CBE

10 October 1878
Northcote, Victoria, Australia
26 March 1964
Community worker


Lady Latham was president of the Royal Children's Hospital management committee from 1933 until 1954, and founding president of the Victorian Society for Crippled Children in 1936. On 1 January 1954, Lady Latham was appointed to the Order of the British Empire - Commander (Civil) for services to children.


Named Eleanor Mary but always called Ella was the only child of teachers (Richard and Fanny (née Matthews) Tobin who taught at Northcote State School, in Victoria as well as being involved in Northcote community affairs. She was educated at University High and the University of Melbourne, from which she graduated in 1902 with an Arts degree.

Latham worked as a teacher and in 1905 co-authored with Jessie Webb a poetry text Phases of Literature from Pope to Browning: prose and verse selections. On 19 December 1907 she married John Greig Latham (later Rt. Hon. Sir) and they had three children. Their eldest son died during the World War II and their daughter Freda died from complications of diabetes.

In 1912 Latham was a foundation member of the Lyceum club, a new club for women graduates and other women who had distinguished themselves in art, music, literature, philanthropy or public service. She became it's tenth president in 1925. She was also foundation president of the Hawthorn branch of the Children's Hospital auxiliary, in 1923, and was invited to join the committee of management, a position she resigned from in 1926. Latham rejoined the committee in 1932 and became president in 1933 (retiring 1954). During her term as president she guided the Children's Hospital through the transmission from a charity hospital to a teaching hospital.

Sources used to compile this entry: Alexander, Joseph A (ed.), Who's Who in Australia 1962, 17 edn, Colorgravure Publications, Melbourne, 1962, 960 pp; Williams, Howard, 'Latham, Eleanor Mary (1878-1964)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006,; Yule, Peter, The Royal Children's Hospital: A History of Faith, Science and Love, Halstead Press, Rushcutters Bay, NSW, 656 pp; accessed 2002-06-27.

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Archival resources

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • Latham, John, Sir, 1877-1964 Family papers, [manuscript] 1879-[1971?], 1879 - 1971?, MS 6409; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details
  • Latham, John, Sir, 1877-1964. Papers [manuscript] 1868-1964, 1868 - 1964, MS 1009; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details
  • Williams, Howard E. Papers, [manuscript]. 1878-1969, (bulk 1907-1969), 1878 - 1969, MS 8131; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

Anne Heywood

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