Geoffrey Serle

Alan Geoffrey Serle AO (10 March 1922 - 27 April 1998), known as Geoff, was an Australian historian, who is best known for his books on the colony of Victoria; The Golden Age and The Rush to be Rich and his biographies of John Monash, John Curtin and Robin Boyd.[1][2]

Serle was born on 10 March 1922, in the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn, the son of Percival Serle and Dora, née Hake. He attended Scotch College and briefly read history at the University of Melbourne before joining the army in 1941. He was seriously wounded in action at Finschhafen, New Guinea. He was discharged in 1944, and resumed study at the University of Melbourne, also being active in the University Labour Club. In 1946, he completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree and won a Rhodes Scholarship. This enabled him to enter University College, Oxford, where he graduated with a doctorate in 1950.[3]

From 1950 Serle taught Australian History at the University of Melbourne, and after 1961 was Reader in History at the newly established Monash University. His first book appeared in 1957; The Melbourne Scene was a selection of documents relating to Victoria and was edited with James Grant.[4]

Serle was active in the establishment of the Victorian branch of the Australian Fabian Society and in establishing the Friends of the La Trobe Library in 1966.[5] He was also closely associated with Meanjin and Overland magazines. Serle also edited Volumes 7-11 of the Australian Dictionary of Biography (Volumes 7-10 with Bede Nairn).[6]

John Ritchie's entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography makes pointed reference to Serle's passion for Australia. When Ritchie sent him a letter from London in 1972 "extolling the virtues of England, [Serle] sent a postcard in reply: on one side it had a painting by Tom Roberts, on the other he wrote, aut Australia, aut nihil."[7]

Serle was appointed Officer in the Order of Australia in 1986. He married Jessie Macdonald in 1955, and together they had a daughter and three sons.

Published works


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