3.2.2 Hulme, Henry Rainsford

[jp,sb,jb,ap,G?,mk,ad] Detailed biographic material for Henry Hulme is presented and discussed in 7.10.1. Henry Hulme was 45 at the time of the "Parker Hulme" murder. He was a Mathematical Physicist by training, and was recognized to be quite brilliant. Not much has been written about Dr Hulme's character and personality, but he has been described by his peers as a reserved, modest and cultured man, though informal in some of his personal habits. It was said he had a ready wit, a great sense of humour and he was a gifted and knowledgeable conversationalist, direct in his words but not abrupt. He was said to be an effective and generous mentor for younger scientists, pleasant and sympathetic in his dealings with them. From some of his actions, it would seem that Dr Hulme had large reserves of intellectual honesty, and he was a reasonable man, but he was somewhat lacking in cutthroat political savvy. On the negative side, it has been implied that Dr Hulme may have been impatient and even arrogant, at times, with his intellectual inferiors, perhaps expressing frustration with and even contempt for them in private remarks. His daughter described him to me (see as a man with a deep appreciation of precise language and a profound love of mathematics, a man who saw the underlying beauty of mathematics and physics in their connection with Nature.

Henry Rainsford Hulme was born on August 9, 1908 in Southport, England to James Rainsford Hulme and Alice Jane Smith. These were modest beginnings, and Henry Hulme's family was not part of the social elite. His quite ordinary start in life may have left an indellible impression on Henry Hulme and may have driven him during much of his adult life.

Henry Hulme was admitted to Manchester Grammar School, a highly regarded 'magnet' Public School (private high school in the English system) for the best and brightest. He was sufficiently proud of his career at Manchester Grammar to list it in his official biography material, and being admitted to Manchester Grammar was probably Henry Hulme's first big career break, at the age of twelve. Reading between the lines of his Curriculum Vitae, Henry Hulme was a very determined and ambitious man, as well as being a very intelligent and able one, and he made several career moves during his life which appear to have been designed to effect quick advancement and generate recognition and respect.

Obviously in the top academic track, Henry Hulme went from Manchester Grammar on to Gonville and Caius College at Cambridge University, where he was to study at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. After being awarded his BA (Math Tripos) in 1929, at the age of 20, Henry Hulme went on to do graduate work in the early 30s, an exciting time for physics, and at Cambridge, an exciting place to be if you were a physicist. Lord Rutherford was an icon at Cambridge, then. Henry Hulme was Smith's Prizeman in 1931. After being awarded his doctorate in 1932, at 23, Dr Hulme spent time in Germany (possibly on a post-doctoral fellowship), studying at the University of Leipzig. Henry Hulme was in Germany at the same time as the prominent diarist Christopher Isherwood, whose "Berlin Stories" chronicled, through the eyes of an Englishman, the tremendous social unrest and upheaval that would come to sweep the Nazis to power. Dr Hulme returned to England and was a Lecturer in Mathematics at Liverpool University between 1936 and 1938.

Dr Hulme met Hilda Marion Reavley, possibly in Liverpool, and they married in June, 1937. He was almost 29 and she was 25, the daughter of a socially-prominent Anglican clergyman. In 1938, at age 30, Dr Hulme assumed the position of Chief Assistant at the Royal Observatory, and the Hulmes moved to Greenwich, a green and tranquil suburb of London, south and east of the central City, on the south bank of the Thames. The Royal Observatory is located in parkland, on a hill overlooking the Thames river valley. This is the location of the Greenwich Meridian, reference 'zero' for all lines of longitude, and time standards of the day. The Naval Academy is nearby, downhill, on the Thames. Dr Hulme's firstborn was a daughter, Juliet Marion, born in Greenwich October 28, 1938, as the stormclouds of war were gathering.

'On loan' to Whitehall and the Admiralty for the duration of World War II, and a rapidly-rising scientific advisor and administrator, Dr Hulme continued to live in Greenwich with his family, with serious consequences for the health and well-being of his wife and his daughter. A son, Jonathon, was born on March 22, 1944. In August 1944, Dr Hulme travelled to America on war work. At the time, his wife was hospitalized with complications from the birth of their son, and his daughter was sent to the north of England to live. By the War's end, Dr Hulme was Director of Naval Operational Research.

After WW II, Dr Hulme became Scientific Advisor to the British Air Ministry from 1946 to 1948. On May 30, 1947, Lord Rutherford's alma mater, Canterbury University College, placed an advertisement for the newly-created position of full-time Rector, the top administrative position. Dr Hulme applied and, on November 18, the Universities Bureau of the British Empire forwarded their recommendation to the University of New Zealand for approval: Dr Henry Rainsford Hulme. A week later, around November 23, Dr Hulme was offered the position of Rector, Canterbury University College. He accepted and began to make plans for relocating himself, his wife and his son to New Zealand. His daughter was already out of the country, for the good of her health, and would be sent on ahead to New Zealand. In mid-1948, before taking up his new post as head of Canterbury College, Dr Hulme was honoured by his own alma mater, Cambridge University, with the award of the D.Sc. degree.

Dr Hulme and his family arrived in Christchurch, NZ, on Saturday, October 16, 1948 and Dr Hulme became the first full- time Rector of Canterbury University College. This was the position held by Dr Hulme during the period of time featured in "Heavenly Creatures." As Rector, which was the top administrative post at the College, Dr Hulme became a prominent member and a leader of Christchurch Society. The Hulmes moved into the Rector's official residence, Ilam, in early 1950. It was a spectacular colonial homestead and the site of many social functions attended by community leaders, such as the Anglican Bishop of Christchurch, politicians and even nationally- and internationally-prominent people, such as Lady Rutherford and the British actor Anthony Quayle.

However, Dr Hulme's career as Rector did not begin well. Soon after his arrival, Dr Hulme alienated many of his colleagues on the faculty by voting against his own College Council "regarding the site of a proposed School of Forestry. ... His relationship with the College deteriorated steadily as other issues arose until finally, in mid March 1954, he was asked by his colleagues to resign" according to G?, paraphrasing official University of Canterbury history [G?, p. 45. Actually, Dr Hulme submitted his resignation on March 4. At that point in the time line of the case, individual days are very important to get right. See 7.3. jp]. There is a whole career's worth of events inbetween that beginning and that end, and a huge set of complicated forces and factors which defined the course of events. For more detail, see section There may also have been other factors contributing to Dr Hulme's forced resignation.

Dr Hulme's family situation essentially self-destructed while he was Rector of Canterbury College. There have been published rumours that Dr Hulme may have had extra-marital dalliances during this time. Around the beginning of 1954, he eventually became party to an unusual living arrangement with Walter (Bill) Perry, his wife's lover, moving into Ilam. This was probably the final straw for his exasperated colleagues and a further incentive for them to demand Dr Hulme's resignation as Rector. It is clear that Dr Hulme also became preoccupied with his daughter's relationship with Pauline Parker in this same period, though just how 'serious' an issue it was to him isn't known. This is a truly complicated set of conditions and circumstances, explored more fully in the time line of the FAQ, section 7.3.

Dr Hulme's tremendous and very public fall from exalted grace, not to mention the extreme personal humiliation 'inflicted' upon him by people he trusted--his colleagues and his family--affected Dr Hulme greatly. It now seems clear that Dr Hulme eventually planned a bitter retreat from New Zealand with his children in tow, leaving his wife and her lover to their own devices. Apparently unwilling to parent his daughter and, it seems, loathe to leave her in his wife's custody, Dr Hulme planned to deposit Juliet in South Africa, on his way home to Britain with his son. In a critical and complex sequence of events (see the time line, 7.3) Dr Hulme tendered his resignation, discussed divorce with his wife, collected his essential possessions and made plans to steam home to England.

Then, just 12 days before the planned departure date, Dr Hulme's daughter, Juliet, helped her friend murder Honora Parker.

Dr Hulme played an important role in the extraordinary events immediately after the murder, but it appears that he had reached the limit of what he would endure on behalf of his disintegrating family. The legal handling of Pauline and Juliet following the murder was very ill-conceived, bungled even, and it would seem that Dr Hulme adopted a completely 'hands off' attitude. Mere days after his daughter's arraignment, Dr Hulme said good-bye to his daughter, took his son, boarded the liner "Himalaya" bound for England and never looked back. He gave one press conference on board denouncing his daughter, the last public statement he was ever to make about the case. He did not provide significant evidence to the police, or testify at any legal proceeding or provide a deposition on behalf of either girl. He did not attend the hearing, the inquest or his daughter's trial for murder. In many ways, it is incredible that he was permitted to leave the country when he did. When Dr Hulme hit landfall in Marseilles, he disembarked and disappeared from public view, without comment.

In 1955 Dr Henry Hulme made two brilliant career moves. First, he accepted a job at the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston in the United Kingdom, Britain's 'Los Alamos.' Second, he divorced his first wife and then married Margery Alice Ducker, daughter of Lady Cooper and her husband, a Peer of the Realm, Sir James A Cooper, KBE.

Dr Hulme devoted himself to physics once again and, three years later, in 1958, he became a proud father of Britain's thermonuclear Hydrogen Bomb, his third brilliant career move after leaving New Zealand. Dr Hulme made an extremely valuable contribution to Britain's becoming an independent nuclear power, restoring much of its faltering international prestige and clout. Remember, this was the height of the Cold War, the era of Sputnik and Soviet expansionism and the Suez Crisis. Britain had paid dearly for 'winning' the War with the Allies, by losing the last vestiges of the Empire, Palestine and much respect.

In 1959 Dr Hulme was appointed head of Nuclear Physics Research at Aldermaston and he remained in this important and politically-influential post through the 60s, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Test Ban Treaty (he was an important advisor on space-based detection schemes for verification), the Space Race, the global upheaval of 1968 and on into the era of Detente. He retired in 1973, at the age of 65. It is conceivable that Henry Hulme may have had the clout, in late 1959, to influence events in New Zealand, at least to the extent of having his daughter's case reviewed at her twenty-first birthday, but there is no evidence that he interfered in any way.

In 1974 Henry Hulme was recognized by an invitation to join the socially elite ranks of the original "Who's Who." His biography is analyzed in section 7.10.1. The inescapable conclusion of that analysis is that Henry Hulme chose to completely obliterate all record of Hilda Marion Reavley from every official account of his life. In so doing, he also discarded his children and heirs from his biography. His second wife, Margery, died in 1990 and Dr Hulme himself died within the year, on January 8, 1991, at the age of 82.

There is evidence that Dr Hulme reconciled with his daughter in the years before his death. See 7.11. He did not change his official biography, however.

Back Forward