Clem Christesen

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Clem Christesen
Clement Byrne Christesen

28 October 1911
Died28 June 2003(2003-06-28) (aged 91)
Templestowe, Victoria, Australia
EducationUniversity of Queensland
OccupationLiterary editor
(m. 1942⁠–⁠2001)
Parent(s)Patrick Christesen
Susan Byrne

Clement Byrne Christesen (28 October 1911 – 28 June 2003) was the founder of the Australian literary magazine Meanjin. He served as the magazine's editor from 1940 until 1974.[1]


Early years[edit]

Clement Byrne Christesen was born and spent his early life in Townsville. His father, Patrick, was of mixed Irish and Danish descent, while his mother Susan (née Byrne), was mostly Irish. The family moved to Brisbane in 1917, where Christesen later attended the University of Queensland.


After leaving university, Christesen worked as a journalist at Brisbane's Courier-Mail and the Telegraph, as well as a publicity officer for the Queensland government.[2]

Christesen was founding editor of Meanjin Papers which was first published in 1940, following his return from overseas travel.

With an offer of full-time salary and commercial support for the publication, the magazine and its editor moved to the University of Melbourne in 1945.

He retired as editor in 1974.

Personal life[edit]

In January 1942, he married Nina Maximoff, only daughter of Captain and Mrs. Michael Maximoff of South Brisbane, Queensland.[3] Nina Christesen would found the Russian Department at the University of Melbourne.[4] In the 1940s they moved to "Stanhope" in Eltham, Victoria.[5]


Christesen was granted several awards and state honours in recognition of his achievements:[2][6]

  • Officer of the Order of British Empire, 1 January 1962, In recognition of service to Australian literature[7]
  • Medal of the Order of Australia, 26 January 2000, for service to the development of Australian creative and critical writing as founder and editor of Meanjin Quarterly
  • Centenary Medal, 1 January 2001, for service to Australian society and the humanities in writing and literature


  • Christesen, C. B. (March 1965). "The 'heart' of a university". Editorial Comment. Meanjin Quarterly. 24 (1): 139–143.
  • The Hand of Memory : Selected Stories and Verse, Meanjin Press, 1970, ISBN 0909997004
  • The Troubled Eyes of Women, University of Queensland Press, 1990, ISBN 0702222712
As editor
  • Australian Heritage : Selection of Australian writings accompanied by brief introductions, chosen to show the relationship between writers and social history, Longmans, 1949, 1962, 1967
  • On Native Grounds : Australian writing from Meanjin quarterly, Selected with a preface by C.B. Christesen, Angus and Robertson, 1968


Christesen died on 28 June 2003 at Templestowe nursing home two years after his wife's death. "He was lucid right to the end," said his niece Nina Joan Christesen.[8]


  1. ^ Lee, Jenny (2004). "Clem Christesen and his legacy". Australian Literary Studies. doi:10.20314/als.7e83282575. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b Hergenhan 2003
  3. ^ "Family Notices". Courier-Mail. 21 March 1942. Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  4. ^ Austlit. "Nina Christesen | AustLit: Discover Australian Stories". Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  5. ^ "Stanhope Residence and Garden, 10 Peter Street, (bounded by Peter, Fay and Stanhope Streets) Eltham". Victorian Heritage Database. Archived from the original on 30 October 2020. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  6. ^ See Australian Honours in References
  7. ^ "No. 42553". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1961. p. 37.
  8. ^ Steger, Jason (30 June 2003). "Writers lament a man of many (important) words". The Age. Retrieved 26 December 2017.