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John Le Gay Brereton

1871 – 1933

John Le Gay Brereton junior (1871–1933), writer and academic, was born in Sydney, the son of a doctor, also John, who had emigrated to Australia in the late 1850s. Brereton attended Sydney Grammar School and then studied English at Sydney University, graduating in 1894. He started writing during his student years, publishing his first book of poetry, The song of brotherhood and other verses, in 1896. He married in 1900; and in 1902, after a variety of jobs, was appointed assistant librarian at Sydney University. Brereton’s second book of poetry was published in 1908, by which time he was also establishing a reputation as a scholar in the field of Elizabethan drama, later publishing books on some of Shakespeare’s plays. He was appointed professor of English literature at the University in 1921; and throughout the 1920s published and edited further works, including a third volume of his poetry and an anthology of essays. A close friend of writers such as Henry Lawson and Christopher Brennan, Brereton was well known in literary circles and was the first president of the Fellowship of Australian Writers and a founding member of the Sydney PEN Club. He died in February 1933 and was survived by his wife, four sons and a daughter.

Updated 2018