WOOD, George Arnold (1865-1928)


WOOD, George Arnold (1865-1928)
historian
son of G. S. Wood, was born at Salford, England, on 7 June 1865. He was educated at Owens College, Manchester, where he graduated B.A., and afterwards at Balliol College, Oxford, where in 1886 he won the Brackenbury history scholarship and in 1889 the Stanhope history essay prize. In 1891 he became Challis professor of history at the university of Sydney and held this chair for the remainder of his life. Before coming to Australia his chief study had been in English and European history, but he soon developed an interest in the early days of Australia and did valuable research on this period. At the university he proved himself to be an excellent lecturer, and his personality enabled him to be held in high esteem by both the staff and the students. He believed there should be an absence of barriers between teachers and pupils, and as president of the university union he made many friends among the students. During the South African war he incurred some unpopularity by advocating peace measures, but he was not a pacifist if he thought a cause a just one—only his age prevented him from enlisting during the 1914-18 war. In 1922 he published The Discovery of Australia, well-documented and excellently written. It was at once accepted as the standard work on the subject. His The Voyage of the "Endeavour", written for school children is also very good of its kind. He had hoped to write a history of Australia up to the deposition of Bligh, but it was never completed. Some of his preparatory work will be found in the admirable papers he contributed to the Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Historical Society, Sydney. He died at Sydney on 14 October 1928. He married Eleanor Madeline Whitfeld, who survived him with three sons and a daughter. One of his sons, F. L. W. Wood, became professor of history at Victoria University College, Wellington, New Zealand.
It was not possible for Wood to do a great mass of writing or research. He came to Australia a young man of 25, and single-handed founded a great history school; it was not until he was 50 that he was given an assistant. As a lecturer and teacher he was held in high regard by his students, many of whom are carrying on the work he began. Among these may be mentioned Professors Bruce of Sydney and the university of the Punjab, Lahore; Crawford of Melbourne; Henderson of Adelaide and Sydney, and Portus of Adelaide. Personally he was a charming companion, learned and sincere, humorous and unpretentious.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 and 18 October 1928; Hermes, Michaelmas, 1928; The Union Recorder, Sydney, 18 October 1928; Who's Who, 1927; private information.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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