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Gwendolen Kent (Gwenda) Lloyd (1899–1965)

by Barbara Falk

This article was published:

Gwendolen Kent Lloyd (1899-1965), educationist, was born on 16 July 1899 at South Yarra, Melbourne, third of seven children of Wilfred Kent Hughes, a Victorian-born surgeon, and his English-born wife Clementina Jane, née Rankin (d.1916). Wilfrid and Ellen were her brother and sister. Gwenda was educated (1909-15) at Melbourne Church of England Girls' Grammar School, where she was captain. For two years she cared for her terminally ill mother, then worked as a member of a Voluntary Aid Detachment at the repatriation hospital, Macleod. In 1919 she enrolled at the University of Melbourne (B.A., 1922; Dip.Ed., 1923); after graduating, she travelled abroad.

In 1925 Miss Kent Hughes joined the staff of the middle school at M.C.E.G.G.S. as assistant house mistress to Dorothy Ross. She participated in an early attempt—by means of the Howard Plan—to solve the problems of a school with non-selective entry, taught history at the middle and senior levels, and in 1928 wrote a history of the school for its silver jubilee.

At Holy Trinity Church, Kew, on 6 September 1930 Gwenda married with Anglican rites John Victor Reginald Lloyd (1895-1964). Born on 24 May 1895 at Carlton, Melbourne, he was named Victor Reginald. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force under the name of John Lloyd, served (1915-17) in the 21st Battalion, and saw action at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. Before and after the war he was employed in the State government's titles office; on retirement, he set up his own office to search company titles. He brought to his marriage a cultivated knowledge of music, and a deep concern for peace and for a more egalitarian society: he had strong ties to the trade union movement and belonged to the Communist Party of Australia. Chairman of the Council for Education, Music and the Arts, and secretary of the Society for the Promotion of Australian Art, he fought for the retention of the site near the Yarra River for the Victorian Arts Centre.

Having suspended her teaching career in 1934 to care for her two children, Gwenda returned to M.C.E.G.G.S. in 1940 to begin a creative working relationship with Dorothy Ross, the recently appointed headmistress who, like Lloyd, was a member of the New Education Fellowship. Their objective was to ensure that all pupils, academic and non-academic, received an education which equipped them to be thoughtful, concerned citizens. The administration of the school became an education in democratic habits and values. With the students, Gwenda played a part in drawing up a constitution for the school's executive-council in 1948. From 1940 she had fought for social studies as a matriculation subject, seeing it as preparation for citizenship in a democracy.

When the school returned to South Yarra in 1945 after its wartime evacuation, Gwenda entered a flowering period of her career. That year the young Aboriginal singer Harold Blair entered the Lloyds' life. Providing him with a home when he was in Melbourne was an example of the communal conscience that Gwenda strove to create in her professional work. John became Blair's official manager and organized his 1949 Australian tour; Gwenda tutored him at night. She also trained teachers at the Kindergarten Training College (1948-49 and 1959) and at the Associated Teachers' Training College (Mercer House) in 1948-62. Mrs Lloyd became joint chief of staff of M.C.E.G.G.S. in 1951 and in the following year served as a consultant to the Australian Broadcasting Commission's youth-education course in social studies. In 1953 she wrote the school's golden jubilee history and encouraged pupils to write and perform a play, 'The Building of the House'. In 1955 she was involved in making the school film, 'Learning and Living Together'. When Edith Mountain succeeded Ross as headmistress, the abrupt change of policy prompted Gwenda's resignation in 1958, with thirty-two other staff. She continued to fight for her principles as federal secretary (1958-60) of the N.E.F.

Colleagues and pupils noted Gwenda's fine profile and upright bearing; her manner of speaking retained something of the bluff, authoritative formality of some Anglican women of her generation. Survived by her daughter and son, she died of a pulmonary embolism on 19 October 1965 at Kew and was cremated. Her husband had died of a coronary occlusion on 7 July 1964. Gwenda Lloyd's life and teaching exemplified the belief, nourished between the wars, that education was the key to the peaceful co-existence of nations and individuals. With her husband, she was commemorated by a trust established for the educational benefit of Aborigines and part-Aborigines.

Select Bibliography

  • K. Harrison, Dark Man, White World (Melb, 1975)
  • J. Epstein, A Golden String (Melb, 1981)
  • R. McCarthy and M. Theobald (eds), Melbourne Girls Grammar School Centenary Essays, 1893-1993 (Melb, 1993)
  • New Horizons in Education, 35, Autumn 1966
  • MCEGGS Magazine, 1966
  • Lloyd papers (University of Melbourne Archives)
  • private information.

Citation details

Barbara Falk, 'Lloyd, Gwendolen Kent (Gwenda) (1899–1965)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 20 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (Melbourne University Press), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Kent Hughes, Gwendolen

16 July, 1899
South Yarra, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


19 October, 1965 (aged 66)
Kew, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.