A Public Life

A Public Life : The Memoirs of Zelman Cowen

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Sir Zelman was Vice-Chancellor of two universities, including the University of Queensland during times of turbulent student protest, and was appointed Governor-General of Australia in 1977.An outstanding scholar and constitutional lawyer, Sir Zelman Cowen was professor and Dean of Melbourne University's law school by the age of 31. He revolutionised legal education in Australia and became one of the nation's best known 'public intellectuals', addressing issues such as capital punishment and republicanism. Keenly aware of social and technological change, he has stimulated debate on many issues, and has always been a vigorous voice for reason and humane values.These are his absorbing memoirs. They are a personal recollection of an outstanding career, as well as a reflection of twentieth-century history - both Australian and international - as seen through the eyes of a man at the forefront of Australian public life for more than fifty years.As a vice-chancellor, Sir Zelman weathered times of turbulent student dissent in the university system during the 1970s.He was appointed Governor-General of Australia in 1977, and in this role brought 'a touch of healing' to a nation bitterly divided over the actions of his predecessor, Sir John Kerr. Sir Zelman went on to serve as head of his old Oxford college, Oriel, and as chair of the British Press Council."A Public Life" is his lucid, vivid and engaging account of a remarkable career.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 592 pages
  • 157.48 x 228.6 x 35.56mm | 907.18g
  • Melbourne University Press
  • The Miegunyah Press
  • Carlton, Australia
  • English
  • 052285270X
  • 9780522852707
  • 942,768

About Zelman Cowen

Born in St Kilda in 1919, Sir Zelman Cowen's contributions to public life have been many and varied. Sir Zelman enjoyed an outstanding student career in Arts and Law, and at 19 became the youngest tutor in the history of Melbourne University. Chosen as Rhodes Scholar for Victoria in 1940, he served in Naval Intelligence during World War II. After the war, as a Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, he was Vinerian Scholar for 1947, and was awarded the degree of Bachelor of Civil Law. As Professor of Public Law and Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Melbourne, from 1951 to 1966, he presided over a revolution in Australian legal education, characterised by the use of full-time teachers, the introduction of the American case-book system and closer ties with outstanding American law schools. In 1968 he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Civil Law. After a decade as Vice-Chancellor of two universities, the University of New England and the University of Queensland, he was appointed Governor-General of Australia in 1977, a post he held until 1982. He regards this period as the great experience of his life. Provost of Oriel College, Oxford, from 1982 to 1990 and Chairman of the British Press Council from 1983 to 1988, Sir Zelman returned to Melbourne in 1990 where, among other pursuits, he was Chairman of the John Fairfax newspaper group from 1991 to 1994. His most notable publications include Federal Jurisdiction in Australia (1959), Isaac Isaacs (1967), The Private Man (1969) and Individual Liberty and the Law (1975). Sir Zelman maintains a lifelong interest in the arts, especially music.show more