Fifty years since my thesis on King Lear began…

Long lost, of course, but good at the time.

My English teachers 4: Sam Goldberg

31 OCT 2007

You will find I have mentioned S L Goldberg (1926-1991) before: on Lines from a Floating Life. Back in 1964 he was just coming into his own as Challis Professor of English at the University of Sydney, having taken up his duties during 1963 when I had a year out working at the MLC Insurance Company in Martin Place where they vainly tried to seduce me into a business or legal career. The next few years were to see the English Department split in two, and by decade’s end Goldberg had gone. When I returned to Sydney University for a temporary secondment as a lecturer in 1977 he was just a memory, albeit with a few acolytes still hanging on, and a cricket team named in his honour, or in honour of his mentor the Downing College Cambridge literary critic F R Leavis

I haven’t changed at all.

My mother and I at my graduation in 1965

What was happening in 1964? This one proved very important but I am not sure I really noted it at the time: Student Action for Aborigines was formed at the University of Sydney in 1964. I did buy Kath Walker’s ground-breaking book though.

Check the year 1964 and scroll down month by month: this is the summary:

Australia’s estimated population: 11, 280, 429

Visual Art

  • no award is made in the Archibald prize

    Performing Arts

  • Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music established
  • Robert Helpmann’s ballet The Display, with music by Malcolm Williamson
  • Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev dance with the Australian Ballet
  • Patrick White’s play Night On Bald Mountain

    Film & Television

  • The Mavis Bramston Show and Homicide premiere
  • Bobby Limb wins the Gold Logie
  • Transfiguration wins the AFI Award


  • Donald Horne’s The Lucky Country
  • George Johnston’s My Brother Jack
  • Kath Walker’s We Are Going


  • NSW public servants are granted four weeks’ annual leave
  • Child endowment extended to children 16-21 in full-time education
  • Australian athletes win 6 gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics
  • Dawn Fraser is named Australian Of The Year

And The Beatles arrived in June…


George Street Sydney in the early 1960s

I didn’t do my 1964 exams in the following conditions. I had hepatitis towards the end of that year and consequently sat supplementaries. I also caused Professors Wilkes and Goldberg and all to have gamma-globulin injections in case I had infected them!


An exam in the old Fisher Library in 1964

Now imagine 50 years before 1964. That’s right: 1914!