Pauline James


I grew up in Collingham, now a Lincolnshire village, not to be confused with the North Midlands’ village of the book, though it is near a river. My grandmother’s address there was Stocks Hill and the photo shows that area now.


After attending the village primary school, in 1954, I passed the eleven plus, and was accepted at Lilley and Stone Girls’ High School in Newark (Peckton in the book). My chemistry teacher took a special interest in me (like Jenny’s teacher in the book), so I chose to specialise in science subjects at A level.

I obtained a BSc (Hons) in Chemistry and then a DipEd from Sheffield University in 1965. Here, my life and Jenny’s become different. My father died and I married Bruce (a fellow chemistry student), by then working on his PhD, while I taught General Science and Chemistry. Two years in the USA followed, while Bruce undertook postdoctoral research and I taught part time at a local college.

In 1969, Bruce was offered a position at the University of Queensland and I taught at Brisbane Girls’ Grammar School for three years. The teachers and incidents described in my book, though, bear no resemblance to my experience there. I also undertook a BEd degree (awarded in 1972) and obtained a scholarship to proceed to a master’s. The MEdSt, specialising in Educational Psychology, was completed in 1975. My daughter, Caroline, was born in 1973.


Given Bruce’s new appointment at La Trobe University, in 1975, we moved to Melbourne where Stephen was born in 1976. Later that year, I contributed two chapters to the then HSC Chemistry text, ‘Chemistry a Key to the Earth, ‘ edited by Peter McTigue―my last professional involvement with chemistry. In 1977, I obtained work at what became known as the Hawthorn Institute of Education, progressing to senior lecturer and, eventually, Head of the Educational Psychology Department.


In 1989, because of a forthcoming merger with the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Education, I enrolled in a PhD at La Trobe University. A medal, as part of an exemplary doctoral thesis prize, was awarded in 1993. My study focussed on ways of better enabling learning and change in adults, useful knowledge, woven into my novel.

In 1995, the Institute joined the University of Melbourne and I became a postgraduate course co-ordinator in what became the Department of Vocational Education and Training. I also undertook two major research projects, published widely in scholarly journals and presented numerous conference papers both in Australia and overseas. In 2000, I was given the title Director of Research Training.

In 2001, I formally retired to become an Associate Professor and Principal Fellow of the University, but continued to supervise doctoral and master’s students and publish my work. I also edited a short book and reviewed papers for academic journals to which I’d contributed. In 2003, I was invited to submit an entry to Who’s Who in the World while, in 2006, I retired completely to concentrate on more personal interests, such as the art of writing fiction. I also became an active member of the Jane Austen Society of Melbourne.

Pauline and Bruce Brisbane 2004

During 2004, while visiting Collingham, I walked past what had once been my home. Realising how formative that period had been for me (between the ages of four and eight), I knew, with modification, this could be a setting for part of a novel. Since an experience in early adulthood, traumatic events, and how memories of them can haunt the mind, had become a particular interest for me. Perhaps what I saw as my inability to cope was related to those early years in England.

If then I created characters, experiencing traumatic events but set in that English village context, could I gain insight into myself by exploring what might have aided me? Could I help others better understand what psychological trauma can do or comfort those who already knew? Or could the novel just entertain with the drama of the situations described? Could a negative event have a positive outcome? And with an abiding interest in educational psychology, could I explore, this time through fiction, perhaps more about becoming the people we are?

Interview with Pauline James (3 Oct. 2015)

Recently I was interviewed  about my background and writing by the author Clancy Tucker. If you’d like to look at that please click on the following link.

Go to Interview.


My Biographical data was recently updated on Marquis Who’s Who to include the release of my book. Click on the two links below for more information about me and my book:

Marquis Press Release

Marquis Industry Leaders

Leave a Reply