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Australian Dictionary of Biography


Sir Robert Menzies (1894-1978)

The Rt Hon Sir Robert Gordon MENZIES, KT, AK, CH, FRS, QC was born in Jeparit, Victoria.  Australia's longest serving prime minister, he was a barrister before being elected to the Victorian parliament in 1928.

Entering federal parliament in 1934 as a member of the United Australia Party, he became Prime Minister in 1939 but resigned in 1941 because of dissatisfaction with his leadership.

In 1945 he formed a new Liberal Party which he led to victory in 1949, remaining Prime Minister until retirement in 1966.

Some salient dates are:
20 December 1894 Born at Jeparit, Victoria
1916 Graduated in Law with First Class Honours
1918 Admitted to the Victorian Bar and High Court of Australia
27 September 1920 Married Pattie Maie Leckie
1928-29 Member Legislative Council of Victoria for East Yarra
1929 Appointed KC
1929-34 Member, Legislative Assembly of Victoria for Nunawading
1932-34 Attorney-General, Minister for Railways, Deputy Premier
1934-66 Member of the House of Representatives for Kooyong
1934-39 Federal Attorney-General
1937 Appointed Privy Councillor
1939 Resigned from Lyons Ministry
1939 Sworn in as Prime Minister of Australia
1941 Resigned Prime Ministership
1942 "The Forgotten People" broadcast essays
1943-49 Leader of Federal Opposition
1944 Convened Canberra Conference which resolved to form a new Liberal Party
1946 Liberal Party's Federal Platform composed
1949 Sworn in as Prime Minister of Australia
1951 Appointed Companion of Honour
1956 Led Suez mission
1963 Awarded Order of Knight of the Thistle
1965 Appointed Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle
1966 Retired as Prime Minister
1967-72 Chancellor of the University of Melbourne
1973 Awarded Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun, First Class
1976 Awarded Knight of the Order of Australia
15 May 1978 Died at Malvern, Victoria


Further information on Sir Robert's life and career can be found in this Menzies Virtual Museum and in:

Martin, A.W. (1993) Robert Menzies: A Life, Vol 1, 1894-1943, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.
Martin, A.W. (1999) Robert Menzies: A Life, Vol 2, 1944-1978, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.

A more extensive bibliography can be found in:

Bunting, E.J.(1988) R.G. Menzies: A Portrait. Allen and Unwin, Sydney.
(The Menzies Foundation has a small number of copies of this book which are available at a cost of $25.00 AUD, including postage.)

Sir Robert's own books include:

To the people of Britain at war (1970 edition) Longmans, London.
The forgotten people (1943) Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
Speech is of time (1958) Cassell, London.
Afternoon light (1967) Cassell, Sydney.
Central power in the Australian Commonwealth (1967)Cassell, London.
The measure of the years (1970) Cassell, London .