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Roy Coupland Winn (1890–1963)

by Stephen Garton

This article was published:

Roy Winn (right), with C. S. Booth (standing) and  Lt George M. Williamson (left), 1916

Roy Winn (right), with C. S. Booth (standing) and Lt George M. Williamson (left), 1916

Australian War Memorial, P02615.001

Roy Coupland Winn (1890-1963), psychoanalyst, was born on 26 June 1890 at Newcastle, New South Wales, fifth son of William Winn, draper, and his wife Janet, née Shade, both native-born. Educated at Sydney Grammar School and the University of Sydney (M.B., Ch.M., 1915), Roy was appointed junior resident medical officer at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Although his parents were strict Methodists and Winn wanted to be a medical missionary, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and was commissioned on 27 July 1915 as a captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps. He was posted to the 1st Australian General Hospital, Heliopolis, before becoming regimental medical officer for the 14th Battalion at Gallipoli, and later in Egypt and France. Appointed bearer captain, 4th Australian Field Ambulance, in December 1916, he was mentioned in dispatches next January. He devised new treatments for trench foot and gained experience in treating shell-shock, but was seriously wounded in the battle of Messines in June 1917: his right foot was amputated and he was evacuated to England. In August he was promoted major and awarded the Military Cross. On 23 January 1918 he married Bertha Elizabeth Browne (d.1942) at Christ Church, West Green, Middlesex. He returned to Australia in May and his A.I.F. appointment terminated on 24 August.

After a term as junior resident medical officer at Sydney Hospital, Winn went to England in 1920 to train under R. M. Riggall of the British Psycho-analytical Society; he also gained experience at University College and Maudsley hospitals, London, and worked as a resident assistant physician at West London Hospital. Back in Sydney in 1922, he found little call for his psychoanalytic training and, while honorary assistant physician at Sydney Hospital (1924-34), became interested in the treatment of diabetes.

Courageously deciding in 1931 to begin private practice as a psychoanalyst, Winn sold his home to buy rooms in Macquarie Street. He faced considerable antagonism from sections of the medical profession and his offer to serve as honorary psychoanalyst at Sydney Hospital was rejected. Publishing two articles on psychoanalysis in the Medical Journal of Australia, he corresponded with Sigmund Freud and studied the work of Melanie Klein. With Paul Dane, in the late 1930s Winn endeavoured to bring a training analyst to Australia and in 1940 was a foundation board member of the Institute for Psycho-analysis, Melbourne, which offered training by Clara Lazar Geroe from Hungary. In 1952 he provided an endowment to establish a similar institute in Sydney.

Clean shaven, broad shouldered and handsome, Winn had a keen sense of humour and was respected for his kindness and tolerance. He loved swimming and deep-sea fishing. On 10 January 1945 he had married Nell Birkenhead Gale at St Mark's Anglican Church, Darling Point. A foundation member (1946) of the Australasian Association of Psychiatrists, he also belonged to the Australasian Association of Psychology and Philosophy, the Institute of Psycho-analysis, London, the State branch of the British Medical Association, the Anthropological Society of New South Wales and the Royal Australian Historical Society. Survived by his wife, and by the daughter and two sons of his first marriage, he died at Concord on 17 August 1963 and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • A. G. Butler (ed), Official History of the Australian Army Medical Services in the War of 1914-1918, vols 2-3 (Canb, 1940, 1943)
  • Medical Journal of Australia, 29 Feb 1964
  • Meanjin Quarterly, 1982, no 3
  • AIF service record (Australian War Memorial)
  • private information.

Additional Resources

Citation details

Stephen Garton, 'Winn, Roy Coupland (1890–1963)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 16 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (Melbourne University Press), 1990

View the front pages for Volume 12

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