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Uren, Malcolm John Leggoe (1900–1973)

by G. C. Bolton

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

Malcolm John Leggoe Uren (1900-1973), journalist, was born on 7 January 1900 at West Hindmarsh, Adelaide, son of Malcolm Francis Uren, schoolteacher, and his wife Millicent Jane, née Leggoe. The family moved to Perth where young Malcolm attended primary school and Perth Modern School. After trying life as a dental student and a boundary rider, he joined the West Australian as a cadet journalist in 1920. He was to remain with West Australian Newspapers Ltd until he retired in 1965. At Wesley Church, Perth, on 25 August 1923 he married Lenora Emily Olive Klenk who used her stepfather's surname, Stradwick. In 1930 Uren's local experience helped the touring British musicologist Dr Thomas Wood; their travels featured in Wood's book, Cobbers (London, 1934). Wood paid tribute to Uren as a 'good friend . . . who made half this book possible . . . who was defeated by no question and who made every courtesy his own'.

In 1941 Uren was appointed editor-in-chief of West Australian Newspapers' associate publications, among them the rural weekly Western Mail and the radio-guide Broadcaster, in which capacity he gave generous encouragement to young Western Australian short-story writers and poets. Wood returned to Australia in 1944, ostensibly on a propaganda mission about British morale, but also for intelligence purposes. He enlisted Uren as an aide, under the guise of a war correspondent in the South-West Pacific. Returning to civilian life, Uren added (1948) a women's magazine, Milady, to his responsibilities.

The gregarious Uren became a prominent figure in Perth. In his earlier years he captained the pressmen against parliament in their annual cricket match. He was a Freemason, a member of Wesley Church and a noted raconteur. Following a major reorganization, he worked as assistant to the managing editor James Macartney in 1953-56. Although Uren was a very moderate drinker and Macartney a stalwart toper, they formed a strong partnership. Uren led several parties of journalists, politicians and businessmen to assess the developmental prospects of the North-West. In 1962 he served as media consultant to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth.

Keenly interested in Western Australian history, Uren published several works which found an appreciative public. Sailormen's Ghosts (Melbourne, 1940), based on a reconnoitring journey to the Abrolhos Islands, provided a lively account of seventeenth-century Dutch shipwrecks. He collaborated with Robert Stephens on Waterless Horizons (Melbourne, 1941), a study of Edward John Eyre. Uren's Land Looking West (London, 1948), a biography of Governor Sir James Stirling, remained unsupplanted fifty years later; his Glint of Gold (Melbourne, 1948), an account of the 1890s goldrushes, drew on oral histories from veterans of that period. He published several later works, some of them dutiful commissioned histories which lacked the narrative zest of his earlier publications. Like a number of Western Australian writers of his generation, he was disadvantaged by isolation. In 1965 he was appointed O.B.E. He died on 22 July 1973 in Perth and was cremated. His wife and their son Malcolm ('Bon'), a respected journalist with West Australian Newspapers, survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Newspaper House News, Oct 1973
  • West Australian, 23 July 1973
  • Thomas Wood papers (National Library of Australia)
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

G. C. Bolton, 'Uren, Malcolm John Leggoe (1900–1973)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/uren-malcolm-john-leggoe-11903/text21321, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 15 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

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