Henry Green

Henry MacKenzie Green,  President 1941-43

Obituary in The Australian Library Journal, March 1963, p. 53

Henry MacKenzie Green former librarian of the Fisher Library (1921-1946), University of Sydney, pioneer critic and outstanding historian of Australian literature, died in Melbourne on September 8th, 1962, aged 81 years.

His Outline of Australian Literature, which appeared in 1930, broke new ground and his mammoth History of Australian Literature, published in 1961, will remain the standard work in the field for a very long time.

He was educated at All Saints' College, Bathurst, and at Sydney University. He graduated B.A. with first class honours in Philosophy in 1902 and LL.B. with second class honours in 1905. During his University career he won his blue for athletics, won the Wentworth Medal once, the University Prize for English verse twice, and the Beauchamp Essay three times.

Soon after graduation he n Europe and upon returning to Australia took up journalism as a career. He served on the staff of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph, pursuing his literary interests until 1921, when he was appointed University Librarian in succession to Professor J. Le Gay Brereton.

During his period as Librarian he was responsible for significant improvements in library policy. Women assistants were recruited to the library staff and academic qualifications became a condition of permanent appointment. The bookstacks were opened to honours students for the first time, and an archival collection of records of University clubs and societies was pioneered. Under his direction Fisher became the first Australian library to make use of micro-photography.

H. M. Green was a poet as well as a critic and lecturer. In 1940 he  delivered the first lectures in Australian literature as part of the English course to Sydney University students. (Already in 1933 a sabbatical year had been spent working on Australian literature in the Mitchell Library.) He also did a great deal of University Extension and wireless lecturing.

He is the author of two books of verse, The Happy Valley (1925) and The Book of Beauty (1929).  Other publications are The Story of Printing (1929), The Poetry of W. B. Yeats (1931), Midsummer Night's Dream (1933), Wentworth as Orator (1935), Christopher Brennan (I 939), Fourteen  Minutes (1944). He also edited Australian Poetry 1943.