The study of Literature in any nation is inevitably shaped by its roots; in Western Australia those roots are strongly Anglophilic. The first university in Western Australia was the University of Western Australia, established in 1913. Walter Murdoch was its foundational professor of English and his ‘Britishness’, as well as his unpopularity within academia, inhibited the growth of Australian literature in tertiary and secondary education. This paper argues for the recognition and acknowledgement of figures like Murdoch however for the expansionary effects of his democratic values and anti- elitism within the academy.

Over one hundred years after Murdoch began professing in Western Australia, his ideologies appear broadening in the context of his contribution to a democratic model of university. Murdoch was a public intellectual who was accessible to the public. He was an academic and journalist, and as the university grew so too did the popularity of his newspaper essays and columns. Murdoch focussed on Australian literature in his own writing but not so much in his teaching. Alongside this ‘Britishness’, Murdoch encouraged liberal and democratic ideals which were consistent with the free tertiary system he promoted and the growing egalitarianism of the Anglophone world. The paper examines Murdoch’s contribution to the discipline of English with a focus on the work of Leigh Dale who historicises the turnover of a largely Anglophile and Oxbridge cadre with a more native-born and nationalist one.