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February 2021
Table of Contents
1. Oration in Chiltern on 3 January, 2022
2. Birthday picnic tea at Lake View on 3 January
3. More about Olga Roncoroni by Alex Cliff
4. More about HHR’s neighbours, Elsie and Philip Cole by Rachel Solomon
5. Gillian Mears on HHR
6. Beth Chamberlain – 100 years young by Graeme Charles
7. The Ghosts Have Never Left - book review by Heather McNeill
Greetings to all our members around the world as we navigate our way through the latest stages of the pandemic. Thanks to the internet our HHR work has continued with the development of our new website and zoom meetings.

Finally it seems some of us will be able to meet face to face for the much anticipated Oration from Clive Probyn and the birthday picnic tea on January 3rd in Chiltern. We hope to see as many of you as possible on what promises to be an exciting day. Bring your friends. All welcome.

In this issue of the newsletter there is more on HHR’s companion and subject of the Oration - Olga Roncoroni - from Alex Cliff in Hastings, England. Also more on HHR’s neighbours in her last home – Elsie and Philip Cole from Rachel Solomon.  

Birthday greetings for our oldest member, Beth Chamberlain, and a book review from Heather McNeill.
Wishing all our members good health and happiness in the coming year.
Janey Runci
HHRSA Oration, 3 January 2022 at 3.30 pm
at Senior Citizens’ Hall, 84 Connor Street, Chiltern
Henry Handel Richardson goes to the Movies and comes Home with the Pianist

Clive Probyn will deliver the Oration in the air-conditioned comfort of the Senior Citizens’ Hall.

Clive Probyn

Clive is Emeritus Professor of Literary Studies at Monash University. With Bruce Steele he is the co-editor of Henry Handel Richardson’s novels, letters and a translation. He co-founded the HHR Society, was its second President, and is HHR’s literary executor.
Of the Oration Clive says: Richardson was a devotee of the cinema and also of the radio. The talk will be illustrated and will include biographical material, social history, and some discussion of Anglo-Australian cinematic parallels. The pianist in the title is Olga Roncoroni whom HHR met at the cinema in Lyme Regis where Olga provided the musical accompaniment for the films.

HHR and Olga at Lyme Regis
January 3 birthday picnic tea at Lake View
The annual picnic tea to celebrate HHR’s birthday will be held, weather permitting, around 6pm in the beautiful gardens of Lake View. We look forward to meeting up again after the long lockdowns.

Lake View

Picnic tea boxes will once again be available on order from Robyn Heather
Bacon, lettuce, tomato and aioli sliders x2
Cucumber and herbed cream cheese finger sandwiches x4
Ham, vintage cheese and tomato relish finger sandwiches x4
Mini quiche x4
Pumpkin, feta and thyme tarts x4
Cheese, kabana and crackers to share. 
Vanilla cupcakes x2 
Fruit salad in share jar
Apple crumble in share jar

People who would like a couples’ picnic box, can choose 4 of the savoury items, and 2 of the sweet items. People who would like a singles picnic box, can also choose 4 savouries, and 2 sweets, but the quantity of each product will be less.
Box will include 2 bottles of water, or 1.
Price is $30.00 per box for couple. $15.00 for single
Boxes will include disposable cutlery and napkins.
Email questions and orders to:
Final orders will need to be in by Monday 20 December 2021.
More about Olga Roncoroni
For the last issue of the HHR newsletter Alex Cliff - great great niece of HHR’s friend, Marie Hansen and our tireless investigator of all things to do with HHR in her last home at Hastings - sent photos of the church in Hastings where  HHR’s neighbour and friend, Philip Cole had designed stained glass windows based partly on HHR’s garden at Green Ridges.
Alex has now diligently found and photographed for us the various places where Olga Roncoroni lived after the death of HHR in 1946. Alex’s search was based on an article by the literary critic G A Wilkes writing of the various times he met and/or corresponded with Olga from 1953 until her death in 1982 at the age of eighty-nine.

Two significant elements in Olga’s life and personality emerge in Wilkes’ article, published in Southerly magazine. The first is Olga’s ‘vitality and resilience’. Wilkes said that most of the photographs of Olga did ‘not sufficiently convey her liveliness and humour’. The best image of her, he thought, was the one in Dorothy Green’s study of HHR, below.

HHR and Olga Roncoroni

The other aspect Wilkes became aware of in his attempts to meet up with Olga were the nervous breakdowns that plagued her life. When Wilkes first contacted her about visiting, Olga replied that she would be glad to see him as long as she was “in circulation” – ‘a reference to the recurrent nervous breakdowns which put her out of action for some part of each year.’ Wilkes writes: ‘She had explained to me that since 1946 (when HHR died) she had each year got into a state in which she was able to do nothing for herself and had to be cared for in hospital.’
Alex Cliff on her photos:
I have taken photos of the various addresses that Olga Roncoroni lived at after HHR died. Apart from the Briers, they were all quite close to each other & not far from the sea.
The Briers was privately owned & run by a Miss Brett. I believe it was principally a maternity home but she also provided some residential care. It closed & was demolished I am guessing in the early 1970's & you will see from the photos has been replaced by a block of flats. I found a website showing a picture of a postcard of the original building with comments from various people who were born there. In fact one of my sisters was born there in 1957 & Mum stayed for about a fortnight after the birth (a bit different these days!).

The Briars Nursing Home - Hastings UK Photo Archive › gallery › old-photos

Leolyn Nursing Home where Olga died closed a few years ago & has now been converted into apartments.

2/46 Kenilworth Road, St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex

Kenilworth Road was the first place where Wilkes visited Olga. She lived here in 2 rooms with five other separate women occupants in the building. From here she took Wilkes to visit HHR’s old home, Green Ridges.

16 & 15 Dane Road
In 1957 Olga took a room and kitchenette in the annexe to the Melbourne House Hotel, 16 Dane Road, St Leonards- on-Sea.

By 1966 Olga’s address was Flat 3, 33 Warrior’s Square.

33 Warrior Square

Flats on the site of The Briers, Old Roar Road

When the Briers closed down in 1972 Olga moved to the Leolyn Nursing Home

Leolyn Nursing Home (now apartments),
63 Pevensey Road

More on HHR’s neighbours – Elsie and Philip Cole
By Rachel Solomon
In the previous edition of the HHRSA Newsletter (Sept. 2021), Alex Cliff generously shared her discovery of two stained-glass windows at St Clements Church in Hastings by HHR’s friend and neighbour at Green Ridges, Philip William Cole (1884-1964). Alex’s contribution has presented a context to provide a little more information about HHR’s interest in Philip Coles’ artistic practice, his career, and images of oil-painting portraits of himself and his wife Elsie, who was one of the last people to see HHR alive.

Olga Roncoroni wrote of HHR at Green Ridges:
Many local residents called, but, finding that H.H. had no taste for social life, these soon left her to herself—for which she was grateful. One exception she made, and this was in the case of our next-door neighbours, Philip and Elsie Cole, Mr Cole, a well-known artist, and his wife sometimes asked H.H. to Tilekiln, the lovely old modernized farmhouse which gave the lane its name. There she went gladly. She was most interested in discussing with them painting and the stained-glass work at which Mr Cole is an expert; and like to wander round the studio, asking questions and watching paintings and windows grow. The Coles, as she came to call them, were ideal neighbours. It was a comfort to me to have them near by; I knew that if I came up against trouble or difficulties I could always rely on their kindly help. (Henry Handel Richardson: Some Personal Impressions, 110)

The following biographical entry accompanies Philip Cole’s paintings on the website of the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery:
Painter, stained glass artist and metalworker, born at St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex. After attending King’s College, London, Cole went to Hastings School of Art and the Royal College of Art, 1909–13. He exhibited RA, RBA, Paris Salon and provincial galleries. Was a member of the Art Workers’ Guild. Viscount Montgomery and Sir Winston Churchill were among recipients of silver presentation caskets made by Cole, who also completed a number of memorials and stained glass windows in East Sussex churches, notably at East Dean and Bexhill. Lived at Fairlight, Sussex.’
Text source: 'Artists in Britain Since 1945' by David Buckman (Art Dictionaries Ltd, part of Sansom & Company)
Philip Cole served in the First World War (1917-18). He was Headmaster of the Hastings School of Art from before this time until his retirement in the 1940s.

The images below are reproduced with the kind permission of the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery.

Self Portrait with a Pipe (n.d.)

Elsie Cole (nee Hayes) (n.d.)
A bewildered delight – writer Gillian Mears acknowledges HHR
In the recently published biography of Australian writer, Gillian Mears, by Bernadette Brennan – Leaping into Waterfalls - is a quote from Gillian when she won the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal, the same medal won by HHR for Ultima Thule. Gillian had not heard of the medal before winning, but when she discovered such past winners as David Malouf’s Fly Away Peter and HHR’s Ultima Thule she was ‘swept up into a most bewildered delight’:
Beth Chamberlain, one of our first members – 100 years young
by Graeme Charles

Beth Chamberlain (right) with Frances Newbound
at a picnic tea
September 16 was a very special day for one of our members. Beth Chamberlain, one of our very earliest members celebrated her 100th birthday. As far as we know, she is our only centenarian. Beth, generally accompanied by her friends, Frances Newbound and Louise Doddrell, was a regular attendee at the HHR birthday picnic tea for many years. She was also a fellow traveller on our famous bus tour of HHR sites around Victoria, back in 2009. For the last few years Beth hasn't been able to join us in Chiltern on January 3 and we all miss her charming presence.

Beth was born at home in Nyah West, in Victoria's Mallee country, on 16th September 1921. She attended the local state primary school, and being the eldest child, her mother was anxious that Beth would have a good education. So, Beth was enrolled at Melbourne Girls High School and during her years there, lived with her grandmother in Melbourne.

Whilst working at radio station 3SH in Swan Hill, Beth met her husband to be, and together they raised three children. Son, Peter, and daughter, Katy survive. Beth was always an active person in her community. She enjoyed quilting and maintained very impressive gardens wherever she lived.

She was a Victorian State Commissioner of Girl Guides and is a life member of that organisation. Other interests included the Shepparton Historical Society, Shepparton U3A, Shepparton Probus Club, and not surprisingly during this time she was named Shepparton Citizen of the Year. Member of Friends of Shepparton Art Museum

The HHR Society was able to send a greeting card and lovely floral bouquet to Beth on the occasion of her birthday, and it is good to know that she hasn't been forgotten despite the fact that she is no longer able to join our various events and celebrations.

Book Review by Heather McNeill
The Ghosts Have Never Left – Victorian Gold Rush Towns and the Stories They Could Tell by John & Marie Watt (Creatours Press 2020)

Bypassing the gold rush towns that have grown to become important regional centres, John and Marie Watt have explored 21 Victorian towns that today are a shadow of their former selves or merely a name on the map.  Infrared photography by Marie provides a visual record of ‘ the ghosts that have never left’, while John’s written commentary gives a synopsis of each once thriving township, along with a specific reference to an event or individual whose path has crossed each place.

Chiltern is one of these 21 towns. The beauty of its largely unchanged streetscape and earliest buildings is well captured in the stunning black and white photography.  The written commentary outlines the impact of gold discoveries and includes a segment on Henry Handel Richardson, briefly covering her life and her connections to Chiltern. Photos of Lake View and its verandahs will bring back for many of us fond memories of HHR Birthday Picnics in January!

John Watt comments that their intention was to arouse interest for the general reader and hopefully prompt further investigation.  This book should encourage travellers to explore lesser-known parts of our state – and certainly to visit Chiltern and to learn more about HHR.

Become a Member

To join the HHRSA:
  1. Please pay $20 via direct deposit to our bank account:
    BSB: 633 000:     Account Number: 184804128
  2. Send the following information to the Secretary, Helen Macrae at
    Your Name
    Postal address including post code
    Telephone number
    Email address
If you have any questions about membership please call Helen on 0401 901 558

86/80 Trenerry Crescent, Abbotsford 3067
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