AUSTIN, JEAN INEZ CAMPBELL BRUCE

1930 - from England


author and teacher, was born on 1 July 1930, in Oldham, Lancashire, where her grandfather was manager of the Pearl Insurance Company. She was the daughter of Colonel DBG Austin, QPM & CPM, a colonial policeman, born in Barbados and Peggy Blair a professional singer.

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Jean Austin

Educated at Edinburgh University, she worked as a modern language teacher in Portugal, Kuwait, Cyprus and Nigeria where she served as education officer in Kaduna. It was in Nigeria that she met her husband John JONES and they were married in Lagos in 1963.

She accompanied her husband to Gambia in 1966 and taught part-time there at the Methodist High School.

In 1969 the Joneses were posted to the Falkland Islands and they arrived in Stanley on 10 May. She took over the colonial secretary’s official residence, Sulivan House, a large but uncomfortable building with a demanding Rayburn stove. In addition to domestic duties, she wrote that she:        

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Jean Austin, with her husband...

‘was able to help out in so many different ways, such as fielding Argentinian visitors from ministerial level downwards, translating documents and doing cypher work, I became more involved in John’s work than is usual for most government wives. However, I found it fascinating and it gave me an interest beyond the battle with the Rayburn and concocting dishes to vary the monotonous mutton diet.’

With her husband, she edited the Falkland Islands Journal – as ‘Co-editors JA & JICB Jones’.

Jean Austin left Stanley with her husband on an Albatross amphibious aircraft in March 1972.

Their next postings were in Pacific territories – Kiribati and the Solomon Islands. The highlight of her time in Kiribati occurred in October 1982 during the royal visit to Kiribati when she and her husband were invited on board the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Her husband retired in 1984 and they set up home in the village of Garlieston in Dumfries and Galloway where she still lives. Her husband John died in 2016.

In the 1970s she wrote A Falklands Diary describing her life on the Islands and deposited her manuscript in the library of Rhodes House, Oxford University. It was not published (as a book of 244 pages) until 2009 by which time the 1982 Conflict and the income from fisheries had transformed the Islands, but it provides an interesting picture of life at a time when it seemed possible that an accommodation might yet be reached with Argentina.

Authors

Jean Austin

References

Jean Austin; Falklands diary: Winds of change in a distant colony; I B Taurus & Co. Ltd; London; 2009

Book review:  David Tatham;  'Falklands diary: Winds of change in a distant colony'; by Jean Austin; Falkland Islands Journal; 2010

Comments

Revisions

July 2020 Original text first added
August 2020 One additional photograph added