Kit's Marriage & Literary Interests
While at Cambridge, Kit won the Hockin Prize for Science in 1935 and spent part of his prize money on two volumes of John Donne’s poetry for his fiancée, Eirene Joyce Thorburn. Kit was introduced to Joyce through her elder brother, Austin (later the Rev. A N. Thorburn), a fellow Collegian. Kit was lucky enough to own a car, of which he was inordinately proud and it allowed him to visit friends during holidays.
The MF 1396 and proud owner. Courtesy, Milner family.
Joyce’s father was the Rev. Philip Beck Thorburn. She was born on 4 February 1916 in Hendon, London, where he was Assistant Metropolitan Secretary for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Along with her younger sister, Joyce was educated at St Elphin’s School for girls at remote Darley Dale in The Peak district of Derbyshire. She played the cello and sang and enjoyed botany and hockey. She began university studies at Manchester close to her father’s then parish of Shaw, but found she was too painfully shy to manage as a day girl after her cloistered schooling.
She and Kit married in 1937 on a drenching wet day, and took their honeymoon in the Lake District which continued a favorite spot for family holidays while they lived in England. They shared a fondness for the theatre, poetry readings and music as well as a mutual commitment to the Anglican church and to social justice. Two boys and two girls were born in England spanning the War years of WW2, all now Australians. All were encouraged to study at University in diverse fields.
E. Joyce Thorburn and C.J. (Kit) Milner on 3 June 1937 with Guy, Bishop of Manchester, at Holy Trinity Church, Shaw, Greater Manchester, where the bride’s father was Rector. Courtesy, Milner family.
Throughout his life, Kit wrote doggerel and poems influenced by friendships and life experiences. There were poems about his devotion to his wife, about his Christian faith, the San Francisco Bay area when he was working on the Manhattan Project during WW2, the burden of being Dean, research topics and mischievous references to fellow staff and the UNSW administration. In particular, the poem On automatic-vehicle technology (1980), relates to Kit’s research in the 1970s and 80s on car safety and reveals the playful nature and ingenuity of an enduring scientist.
The following selection of the poems are available to read under the related downloads in the left hand margin of this page:
Bay cities (1944)
Lover’s Rhyme (1944)
Selected BTH Clerihews (1947)
V.C.A. Clerihews (1966)
Industrial revolutions (1978)
On automatic - vehicle technology (1980)
An unpublished letter to the Editor of the ‘Journal of Scientific Instruments’ and of the bulletin of the Institute of Physics (1951)
Kit and Joyce outside their Northbridge home in Sydney, c1990. Courtesy, Milner family.
Early Science Exhibition & Kit Milner
This exhibit extends to only some of the highlights that offer an insight into the many dimensions of this remarkable man’s life and attempts to portray something of their inseparability. He was passionate about many things including his science, his family and his faith; and this, added to his impish sense of humour and inquisitiveness, set him apart from many others
The exhibit covers details of his: