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Horace Waring (1910–1980)

by A. R. Main

This article was published:

Horace Waring (1910-1980), zoologist, was born on 17 December 1910 at Toxteth Park, Liverpool, England, son of Frank Waring, hosier and glover, and his wife Emma Hender, née Macdonald. Educated at Holt Secondary School and the University of Liverpool (B.Sc., 1931; M.Sc., 1933), Harry won an Edward Forbes exhibition tenable at the university and its marine biological station, Port Erin, Isle of Man. In 1937 he joined the zoology department of the University of Aberdeen (D.Sc., 1939). At the Sefton parish church, Lancashire, on 3 September 1938, he married Doreen Dickinson (d.1976). From 1941 he was an entomologist with the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries, working in Scotland on control of parasites in farm animals. In 1946 he took up the post of head of the zoology department, University of Birmingham.

On 1 May 1948 Waring was appointed professor of zoology at the University of Western Australia. As an experimental zoologist he brought a new approach to a department whose work had been largely taxonomic. He determined to undertake research on marsupials. Warned that obtaining funds for research would be difficult, he responded by establishing an extensive network of people and organizations to help him. (Sir) Ian Clunies Ross of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization arranged for an annual grant, and Francis Ratcliffe, officer-in-charge of the C.S.I.R.O. wildlife survey section, fostered co-operation between his staff and Waring's group. The Broken Hill Proprietory Co. Ltd provided transport to islands off the Kimberley coast, and the Department of Defence authorized the use of facilities on Garden Island. The Western Australian Department of Fisheries and Fauna assisted in various ways; later its minister, Graham MacKinnon, helped to achieve the vesting (1970) of the Jandakot reserve, near Rockingham, for the establishment of a breeding colony of marsupials.

Starting with quokkas, Waring's field of research was reproductive physiology, in particular the immunological competence, endocrine function and other aspects of development of the pouched embryo. He also developed an interest in nutritional physiology, and studied with R. J. Moir the ruminant-like function of the enlarged foregut of marsupials. With Moir and C. H. Tyndale-Biscoe he wrote a major review of the comparative physiology of marsupials in Advances in Comparative Physiology and Biochemistry (1966). The publication of his monograph Color Change Mechanisms of Cold-Blooded Vertebrates in 1963 was the culmination of work begun when he was a student. Chairman (1958-59) of the professorial board and acting vice-chancellor in 1958, he disliked administration but regarded it as a necessary evil to be tolerated so that he could pursue his research. Loud and boisterous, and unwilling to suffer fools, he took his teaching duties seriously and remained interested in his students and their careers. In 1970 the university awarded him an honorary doctorate of science.

After retiring in December 1975 Waring stayed on as honorary research fellow, continuing to publish papers on the immunology of marsupials and hormones of marsupials and monotremes. On 11 May 1979 at their home at North Beach he married in a civil ceremony Muriel Naomi Crapp, née McIlwraith, a widow. Elected (1954) a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, he was awarded (1962) the Royal Society of New South Wales's (W. B.) Clarke medal, and shared (1970) with A. R. Main the Britannica Australia award for science. In 1980 he was awarded the Mueller medal by the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science. Having suffered for some years from cardiorenal failure, he died on 9 August 1980 at Nedlands and was cremated. His wife, and the son and daughter of his first marriage survived him. The marsupial reserve at Jandakot was named after him in 1982.

Select Bibliography

  • F. Alexander, Campus at Crawley (Melb, 1963)
  • University of Western Australia, University News, Dec 1970, p 6, Dec 1975, p 3, Sept 1980, p 4, 5 Oct 1982, p 17
  • Historical Records of Australian Science, vol 5, no 2, 1981, p 116
  • staff file (University of Western Australia Archives).

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Citation details

A. R. Main, 'Waring, Horace (1910–1980)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 14 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (Melbourne University Press), 2002

View the front pages for Volume 16

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


17 December, 1910
Liverpool, Merseyside, England


9 August, 1980 (aged 69)
Nedlands, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

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