Syd Harrex

Dr Syd Harrex was a poet, a pioneer in international literary studies and one of Flinders University’s original academic cohort.

Tasmanian born and educated, Dr Harrex joined the newly established Department of English at Flinders as a foundation lecturer in 1966. In 1977, he founded the Centre for Research in New Literatures in English (CRNLE) to promote research into the English language literatures of India, Africa, the Caribbean, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore and Australasia.

Syd Harrex with the book, 'Alas for the Pelicans', celebrating Flinders and Baudin. Fridays at the Library, 2006.

Syd Harrex reading from the book, 'Alas for the Pelicans', celebrating Flinders and Baudin. Fridays at the Library, 2006.

Items can be found by searching within the Syd Harrex Collection in Findit@Flinders:


The first centre of its kind in the world, CRNLE ran a writer-in-residence program that attracted prominent authors and academics, and also hosted numerous international conferences. Among CRNLE’s associate members were Nobel Prize-winning Jamaican poet Derek Walcott and eminent Indian novelist RK Narayan.

Over its 30 years of existence, the Centre was a prolific publisher of literary criticism, including the CRNLE Reviews Journal, establishing a network of international scholars and creating a legacy that continues in the form of Flinders-based online journal Transnational Literature.

In addition to his extensive research output, Dr Harrex published seven volumes of poems, including the critically acclaimed Atlantis and other poems. His poetry has appeared in national and overseas periodicals and anthologies, including the Oxford Book of Modern Australian Verse.

Syd, as he was universally known, is fondly remembered as a charismatic, generous and influential teacher. Many of his postgraduate students went on to become academics in Australia and overseas.

Emeritus Professor Graham Tulloch said that Dr Harrex was a man with a huge capacity for warm and lasting friendship with people of different cultures from around the world, and that he gave enormous encouragement to many young academics.

Dr Harrex retired from Flinders in 2008, and despite failing eyesight continued to write poetry at his homes in the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island. He died in 2015 at the age of 79.

For commemorative writings in memory of Syd, please see Transnational Literature Volume 8, Issue 1 (2015) and Asiatic Volume 9, Number 1 (2015).

The Collection

The Syd Harrex Collection houses books covering 16 metres of shelving, mostly on new literatures in English. It also includes literary periodicals, correspondence, audio and video tapes. The manuscripts of the collection contain drafts of poems and articles, notes and annotations. The CRNLE Collection exists in the University Central Records Office and Archives.

General conditions of access apply.

For further book titles available from a wide range of Asian and African countries, see also the Ronald Klein Collection.