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Hunt, Harold Arthur Kinross (1903–1977)

by K. J. McKay

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

Harold Arthur Kinross Hunt (1903-1977), classical scholar and educationist, was born on 16 March 1903 at Dubbo, New South Wales, third child of Harold Wesley George Hunt, a native-born schoolmaster, and his wife Grace Matilda, née Henderson, who had been born in Germany. His father died within three months of Harold's birth; his mother then trained as a teacher and founded Woodcourt College, Marrickville, Sydney. Educated at Newington College under C. J. Prescott and at the University of Sydney (B.A., 1924), he graduated with first-class honours in classics and the university medal. A Cooper travelling scholarship took him to Queen's College, Oxford (M.A., 1926).

In 1927-35 Hunt taught at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School. Senior classics master from 1931, he also directed debating, rowing, rifle-shooting and the cadet corps, and completed a diploma of education (1929) at the University of Melbourne. On 20 December 1928 he married Gwendolen Dinah Fulton Jones (d.1977) at St Stephen's Anglican Church, Penrith, New South Wales.

Hunt joined the staff of the University of Melbourne in 1936 as lecturer in classics. Promoted senior lecturer (1945) and associate-professor (1949), he succeeded C. A. Scutt in 1955 as professor of classical studies. The department's new name suited Hunt, whose broad interests included numismatics, social history and archaeology; his major concerns were ancient philosophy (especially Stoicism) and Ciceronian studies. He was awarded a Litt.D. by the university in 1950 for his thesis, The Humanism of Cicero (published 1954). Sub-dean (1938-41) and dean (1955-57) of the faculty of arts, he was a member of council in 1952-55.

During World War II Hunt had served in the Citizen Military Forces (1942) and as an intelligence officer in the Australian Imperial Force (1942-43). He rose to captain and was involved in devising an intensive course of instruction in Japanese. On this model, in 1946 he pioneered an intensive course in Ancient Greek, flexible enough to serve his department for forty years. A born teacher, he was method lecturer (1945-49) in Latin in the university's school of education. His book, Training through Latin (1948), was one result, while other technical publications followed his association (1962-65) with the Australian Council for Educational Research. Hunt was a popular public lecturer with a droll sense of humour, displayed with deadpan face and immaculate timing. He was utterly fearless in singing to crowded lecture theatres his Latin translations of hits from the musicals. His 'special genius for sociability' put many a student at ease.

Councillor (1932), treasurer (1934-42), vice-president (1946-50 and 1955-61), president (1950-54) and patron (1962-77) of the Classical Association of Victoria, Hunt delivered its H. W. Allen lecture in 1963, 1970 and 1973. He was an articulate champion of his discipline and president (1967-69) of the Australian Society for Classical Studies. A foundation member (1954) of the Australian Humanities Research Council, he became sub-editor of The Humanities in Australia (edited by (Sir) Grenfell Price, Sydney, 1959). Following retirement in 1969, Hunt published The Story of Rotary in Australia (1971), The Professor and the Possum (1973), The Master Printers of Sydney (Sydney, 1976) and A Physical Interpretation of the Universe (1976). He died on 11 April 1977 at Camberwell and was cremated; his son and daughter survived him. An excellent likeness by Rex Bramleigh appears as the frontispiece to Cicero and Virgil (Amsterdam, 1972), a festschrift for Hunt edited by John Martyn.

Select Bibliography

  • University of Melbourne Gazette, Sept 1949, p 72, Mar 1969, p 11, Sept 1977, p 13, Autumn 1993, p 30
  • Classical Association of Victoria, Iris, 1977, p 36
  • University of Melbourne Archives
  • private information.

Citation details

K. J. McKay, 'Hunt, Harold Arthur Kinross (1903–1977)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hunt-harold-arthur-kinross-10574/text18781, published in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 1 October 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

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