University's namesake brought back to life

June 22, 2011

A new generation will have the opportunity to experience the witty, entertaining and quirky social commentary of Murdoch University’s namesake, Sir Walter Murdoch, when a new book containing a compilation of his writings is launched on June 29.

Murdoch was an academic and bestselling author who during the 30s, 40s and 50s, contributed weekly essays to various newspapers around Australia.

Murdoch University’s Emeritus Professor of History, Professor Geoffrey Bolton, is launching the book. He said there were a number of good things about Walter Murdoch.

“One was that you could not put him in any particular pocket. He wasn’t on one side of politics or the other. He liked exposing the pomposity of elected persons,” Professor Bolton said.

“What he had to say was always put amusingly and there was always the little sharp point behind it.”

Professor Bolton said that in Murdoch’s days, more so than now, academics were expected to be conservative, but Murdoch was prepared to take a point of view.

“Even as a very old man he was interested in environmental concerns,” he said.

“He had the great knack not to fight too many crusades and reduce his credibility, but when it was necessary to stand up and be counted he was prepared to do that.”

The new book titled On Rabbits, Morality, Etc, is edited and introduced by Imre Salusinszky, the NSW Political Reporter for The Australian and author of countless reviews, articles and books.

“In an age where the advent of the blog has enabled a new generation of essayists to find growing audiences, Murdoch’s sketches remain a model of the potential of the essay to illuminate and delight,” Mr Salusinszky said.

While in Perth for the book launch Mr Salusinszky will also present a lecture for The Krishna Somers Foundation entitled Walter Murdoch and the Ideology of the Essay. In the lecture he will delve into the fortunes and prospects for the essay in the digital age.

The Krishna Somers lecture will be held at 4.30pm, June 30 in Education and Humanities 3.041 at Murdoch University’s South Street Campus. No RSVP is required. The book launch will be held from 5.30pm on June 29. RSVPs essential to or telephone 08 9360 6176.

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Media contact: Hayley Mayne
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