Dr Maurice Saxby's legacy remembered

4 May 2015

The late Dr Maurice Saxby AM with Adjunct Associate Professor Libby Gleeson AM
The late Dr Maurice Saxby AM with Adjunct Associate Professor Libby Gleeson AM

Adjunct Associate Professor Libby Gleeson AM will pay tribute to the life and legacy of one of Australia's greatest champions of children's literature when she delivers the Children's Book Council of Australia's Maurice Saxby Lecture this week.

In the first lecture held since Dr Maurice Saxby AM's passing in November last year, Gleeson will acknowledge his foundational work advocating for the importance of children's literature and establishing it as a field of scholarly inquiry.

Gleeson, a celebrated children's author and much-loved storyteller, will also touch upon the magic of story for children, writers and readers alike in her address, which will be fittingly set in the University of Sydney's Education building this Wednesday 6 May.

"Maurie cared deeply about story, and I'll be addressing the fact that storying is as old as the human race," said Gleeson.

"Every culture tells stories. In the words of the psychologist and writer Jonathan Gottschall: we are 'the primate, Homo fictus, the great ape with the storytelling brain.'"

Dr Maurice Saxby was an alumnus and Honorary Associate of the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney. Affectionately known as the 'Godfather of Australian Children's Literature', he made an indelible contribution to the discipline over more than sixty years. He was the first national president of the Children's Book Council of Australia in 1958.

In addition to being a former schoolteacher and teacher librarian, Dr Saxby completed a Masters of Education at the University of Sydney and later lectured in the university's Bachelor of Education course. He was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Sydney in late 2013, recognising his contributions to children's books.

As a highly respected figure in literary circles, Dr Saxby was awarded an Order of Australia in 1995 for his service to children's literature, the Dromkeen Medal, the Pixie O'Harris award for distinguished achievement in the development of children's books, and the CBCA's Nan Chauncy Award.

"He was loved by so many in the children's literature community and he was a dear personal friend to me and to others," Gleeson added.

"I hope the audience will share Maurie's deep love of story, understand its role and appreciate the mystery and the magic of creating story for children."

Event Details

What: Maurice Saxby Lecture, presented by the Children's Book Council of Australia

When: 6.30pm, Wednesday 6 May 2015

Where: Room 612, Education Building, University of Sydney. Drinks and canapes will be provided before the lecture in the faculty common room.

Cost: CBCA members $50/non-members $70

Bookings essential, register here.