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Esmonde Macdonald Higgins (1897 - 1960)


Esmonde Macdonald Higgins was born on 26 March 1897, the only son of John Higgins of Kew, Melbourne, Australia. He was educated at Scotch College, Melbourne, where he was dux (head of school) in 1913. He earned a BA at Ormond College, Melbourne University. After an earlier rejection on medical grounds, he was finally able to enlist in November 1917 in the Australian Forces. He went to France with the 6th Field Artillery Brigade in October 1918. His uncle, HB Higgins, enabled him to apply to Balliol; he was accepted and came up in Hilary Term 1919.His tutors 1919-1921 were Francis Fortescue Urquhart and HW Carless Davies.

Higgins visited Russia in the summer of 1920 with two Balliol colleagues and fellow Communists. College Meeting made a formal request to the Master to 'speak seriously to Mr E M Higgins and to inform him that his continued residence depends on his work and conduct giving satisfaction to the College.' (CM, 20/10/1920) He gained 2nd class results in modern History finals and rowed for the College 2nd Torpid.

Higgins returned to Australia after going down and became first a schoolmaster in Victoria and in 1928 an Assistant Master at Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia. He was a Lecturer in Adult Education at the University of Tasmania in 1916, the University of New Zealand in 1938 amd the University of Sydney in 1941, where he held the post of Senior Lecturer from 1945. He was Associate Editor of Current Affairs Bulletin from 1947.

He married Marjorie Josephine Gardiner in 1935; they had a son and a daughter.

Further Reading

Biographical article in the Australian Dictionary of National Biography.

Holt, S. 'Esmonde Higgins and the Palmer Collection. National Library of Australia News (July 1993) pp 7-10.

Irving, T. 'Defecting: Esmonde Higgins Leaves the Communist Party.' Labour History 84 (Nov 2004).

Irving, T. 'Becoming Labour Intellectuals: Esmonde Higgins, James Rawling, and the "self-referential location of intellectuals"'. nd

Admissions correspondence images

This is all the information Balliol holds on EM Higgins.

- Anna Sander

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