David Syme: man of the Age

Elizabeth Morrison
Published by Monash University Publishing in association with the State Library of Victoria
Paperback 448 pages illustrated ISBN 9781922235-35-0; 9781922235367 (ePub)

In the 1880s, the circulation of the Melbourne Age newspaper was far in excess of any other daily published in Britain’s colonial empire. Its proprietor, the driven and talented Scotsman David Syme, was acknowledged as the leader of the Australian press. Due to the influence that he and his newspapers exercised, he became a legend in his lifetime and for several generations after his death in 1908.

Drawing on family and business records, as well as newly digitised 19th-century newspaper archives, this biography of a powerful man of many parts goes behind the legend to round out the story of his life – primarily as press ‘baron’ but also as author and philosopher, financier, farmer, property developer and, not least, family man.

Elizabeth Morrison is a historian of 19th-century Australian print culture. She has researched and written extensively about the cultural role of the era’s Australian press as the publisher of new fiction through newspaper serialisation. The political role of the newspaper press was a major theme of her 2005 publication, Engines of influence, a study of Victoria’s country newspapers in the colonial period.

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