Robert Guy Howarth

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Robert Guy Howarth (1906–1974) was an Australian scholar, literary critic and poet.

Born in Tenterfield, NSW, his father was a school teacher. After education at Fort Street High School, the University of Sydney and Oxford University, and editing several books, he was appointed lecturer in English at Sydney University in 1933.[1]

He was an encouraging and generous teacher and colleague, and established a reputation as an expert in Elizabethan tragedy and Restoration comedy. He introduced modernist and contemporary writers, and Australian writers, into the curriculum. In 1939 he persuaded the Australian English Association to publish under his editorship the journal Southerly. Through his role editing Southerly, and as a literary critic for the Sydney Morning Herald, he influenced the development of Australian literature. He also edited or wrote introductions for works by Hugh McCrae and Joseph Furphy, William Hay's The Escape of the Notorious Sir William Heans (Melbourne, 1955) and, with John Thompson and Kenneth Slessor, The Penguin Book of Australian Verse (London, 1958).[1]

In 1948 Howarth was appointed reader in English literature. He was elected a fellow (1952) of the Royal Society of Literature of the United Kingdom, and was a foundation member (1954–55) of the Australian Humanities Research Council, a member (1950–55) of the advisory board of the Commonwealth Literary Fund and president (1947–55) of the Sydney branch of the English Association. Disappointed at not being appointed to the Challis Chair in English Literature in 1955, he accepted the Arderne chair of English literature at the University of Cape Town.[1]

Awarded grants by the C.L.F. in 1971 and 1972 to prepare an edition of the letters of Norman Lindsay, Howarth returned to Sydney. He suffered a fractured skull when he was struck by a motorcycle in George Street on 30 December 1973 and died on 21 January 1974 in Sydney Hospital.[1]

He had married, aged 19, the 16-year-old Sylvia Marjorie Beryl Smith, a stenographer, in 1925. They had three sons: Philip (born 1925), Anthony (born 1930) and Geoffrey (born 1933); she divorced him in September 1948. On 12 November that year at the registrar general's office, Sydney, he married Lilian Irene Shephard, née Flynn, a clerk and a divorcee. They were divorced in 1964. His second wife was the beneficiary of his will, and she sold his library and manuscripts as a 'collection entire' to the University of Texas, at Austin.[2] The Letters of Norman Lindsay (1979) was completed by Anthony Barker.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Lee, Stuart (1996). "Howarth, Robert Guy (1906 - 1974)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 12 March 2010. 
  2. ^ Preliminary inventory of the collection
  • A.L. McLeod R.G. Howarth: Australian Man of Letters New Dawn Press group: Elgin, IL & Slough, Berkshire, 2005.