Sydney Graduate to receive Legion of Honour Award

17 August 2005

Sydney woman Dr Judith Robinson-Valéry, a leading international figure in the study of French literature, was awarded France’s highest decoration, the Legion of Honour (Chevalier) at a ceremony on Thursday at The Women’s College, University of Sydney.

The French Ambassador, His Excellency Mr Patrick Henault presented the award to Dr Robinson-Valéry who has played a key role in the promotion and teaching of French and French literature, both in Australia and internationally. She is a specialist in French authors Paul Valéry, Stendhal and Balzac.

Dr Robinson-Valéry was responsible for the creation of a number of French Departments at several Australian universities. She was Foundation Chair of French and Head of the School of Western European Languages at the University of New South Wales and became one of Australia’s first women professors in 1963.

Judith (White) Robinson-Valéry was born in Canberra in 1933 and became a resident of Women’s College in 1950 while Betty Archdale was principal.  In 1953 she was awarded First Class Honours and the Sydney University Medal in French.

In 1954 Judith went to Paris to study philosopher and moralist Alain and was awarded a doctorate at the Sorbonne with the highest distinction. She has held a number of positions within the universities of Nanterre, Paris IV, Sorbonne and Montpellier and in 1982 was appointed Director of Research at the CNRS (National Centre for Scientific Research) in Paris.

Dr Judith Robinson-Valéry’s editorial work on the Pleiade edition of the Cahiers of Paul Valéry (29 volumes) has been completed. She now lives in retirement in Sydney and plans to publish her collected poems.

In 2005 the Judith Robinson-Valéry Scholarship was instituted at The Women’s College for a post-graduate student who is studying psychology.

Media inquiries:

Virginia Gawler, Media Office, University of Sydney: (02) 9351 2261 or 0423 782 603