Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Hodge, Grace McKenzie (1888–1980)

by Brian O'Neill

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

Grace McKenzie Hodge (1888-1980), schoolteacher, was born on 13 May 1888 at Bundaberg, Queensland, sixth of ten children of Scottish-born parents Robert Hodge, bricklayer, and his wife Euphemia, née McKenzie. With their eldest child, the parents had emigrated to Australia in April 1880 and settled at Bundaberg where the developing sugar industry provided employment for builders. Robert selected land in the North Isis district, near Childers, and named their home Auld Reekie. Grace was educated at Bundaberg Central, Cordalba Provisional and Isis Central Mill Provisional School (which had only one teacher), before attending the larger Cordalba State School for her scholarship year. In 1902 she won a state bursary which entitled her to free education at a grammar school and provided an annual allowance of £30 for three years. She chose Maryborough Girls' Grammar School. In 1903 her results were the highest in the class and she was awarded the Melville bursary. At the New South Wales senior public examination in 1906, she gained silver medals in ancient history, English, French and physiology, and a place at the University of Sydney.

Miss Hodge had also qualified for a Carnegie grant (available to children of Scottish emigrants—who excelled academically—to study at a university) and chose to enrol at the University of Edinburgh. During the voyage to Britain the young student was chaperoned by the sister of Andrew Fisher, the Federal member for Wide Bay, who was a friend of Grace's father. Grace graduated (M.A., 1911) with second-class honours in classics. Her course included Greek and Roman history, Latin, Greek, logic and mathematics. She subsequently studied in Paris and was awarded the Alliance Française certificate for conversation in French.

Having taught at schools in France and Germany to perfect her pronunciation, Hodge returned to Queensland. In January 1912 she was the first female teacher to be appointed to Bundaberg High School. Next year she transferred to the Central Technical College. She taught English, French, German, Latin and Greek in secondary schools at Dalby (1914-16), Gympie (1916-20) and Childers (1921-23). Following settled periods at Rockhampton High (1923-35) and at Maryborough High and Intermediate (Girls) School in 1936-47, she was appointed to the correspondence tuition section of Teachers' Training College, Brisbane, in 1948. From May 1951 she taught at Wynnum High School until her retirement on 13 May 1953. A number of her students established academic careers of their own and remained grateful for her encouragement, friendship and capacities as a teacher.

Grace Hodge benefited from her parents' liberal ideas. Her scholastic achievements were unusual at a time when many girls were not encouraged to seek academic qualifications and when most teachers were trained under the pupil-teacher system. A 'quiet, endearing modesty characterized her classroom and private life'. Aged 92, she died on 17 September 1980 in Childers Hospital and was buried in Cordalba cemetery with the forms of the Uniting Church.

Select Bibliography

  • B. W. O'Neill, Taming the Isis (Childers, Qld, 1987)
  • Hodge staff card, History Unit, Queensland Department of Education, Brisbane
  • Hodge family papers (privately held).

Citation details

Brian O'Neill, 'Hodge, Grace McKenzie (1888–1980)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 19 May 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

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