Vera Deakin and the Red Cross
Royal Historical Society of Victoria, $35 hb, 244 pp
Vera Deakin was Alfred and Pattie Deakin’s third and youngest daughter. Born on Christmas Day 1891 as Melbourne slid into depression, she grew up in a political household, well aware of her father’s dedication to the service of the Australian nation, not only in the Federation movement but later as attorney-general and three times as prime minister.
Carole Woods recreates the life of this Melbourne middle-class family with its home entertainments, annual beach holidays, and careful education of its daughters. Because of Alfred Deakin’s central role in the achievement of Federation and the first decade of the new Commonwealth, the Deakins’ family papers have been well preserved, including family letters that have little to do with politics but are invaluable for the insights they provide into the Deakins’ social and family life. Alfred and Pattie instilled a sense of service in their three daughters, as well as a love of Britain, her literature, and her imagined landscape. In 1900, when Vera was eight, Deakin took his family with him when he went to London in the delegation to shepherd the constitution through the British parliament.