The Scottish-born couple, David Orme Masson – usually called Orme – and his wife, Mary, came to Australia in the late 1880s when Masson was appointed the Professor of Chemistry at the University of Melbourne. A superb teacher and administrator Orme made a major contribution to Australian science, particularly though his work in the establishment of CSIRO. At the same time Mary Masson became an important figure in the social life of the University and the city of Melbourne.
Their son, Irvine, the oldest of their children, completed a science degree in Melbourne then left for further studies in London. Despite the pleas of his parents he never visited Australia again, but married a cousin in Scotland and carved out a successful scientific career in English universities, finishing as Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield University. His sister, Marjorie usually called Marnie married the engineer, Walter Bassett, brought up a family which experienced both tragedy and joy, and became a pioneering woman historian. The youngest child, Elsie, trained as a nurse while facing controversy as she sought to improve the working conditions of the profession, married the controversial anthropologist, Bronislaw Bronio Malinowski, travelled widely as he developed his career, often at her expense, and died at a tragically young age leaving three children. Success and sadness were never far apart in this family’s life.
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