Literature

Sir Zelman and the Literary Loony

In the later 1970s at Xavier Herbert’s request I attended a private dinner party in Cairns, where he contrived to meet the visiting Zelman Cowen, then Vice-Chancellor of the University of Queensland (he had not yet been knighted). Xavier asked brashly across the table, as he had planned, that the university grant him an honorary degree. Zelman explained, not unkindly, that such decisions could not be made like that. After the dinner party I went home with Xavier and his wife Sadie where, in a huff, he conducted a vigorous post-mortem of the party, angrily denouncing Zelman’s supposed high-handedness in…

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