Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Arthur Wilkes Meadows (1911–1987)

by Simon Cooke

This article was published:

Arthur Wilkes Meadows (1911-1987), psychologist, was born on 11 June 1911 at Wigan, Lancashire, England, son of Thomas Meadows, accountant, and his wife Kate, née Brookes. Arriving in Melbourne as a child, Arthur was educated at Queen’s College, St Kilda, and then Melbourne Technical School. After five years (1929-33) as a junior teacher, Meadows attended Melbourne Teachers’ College under bond in 1934. Next year he was appointed to the school for Aboriginal children at Framlingham. On 23 December 1935 at Christ Church, St Kilda, he married with Anglican rites Mavis Elizabeth McLennan, a typist. In 1937 he moved to South Melbourne Technical School. He proved to be an enthusiastic and capable teacher, especially of those categorised as atypical children.

In 1939 Meadows was appointed a stipendiary probation officer of the Victorian Children’s Court. After investigating ‘problem cases’ that came before the court, he provided social and psychological reports and follow-up, including supervising and ‘re-educating’ young male sex offenders. He worked in the Children’s Court clinic as acting psychologist (1941), psychologist (1945), senior psychologist (1949) and principal psychologist (1954). His other clinical positions included an honorary appointment at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Meadows studied part time at the University of Melbourne (BA Hons, 1946; MA, 1949), graduating with first-class honours, and completed a PhD (1951) at the University of London. He became a fellow of the British Psychological Society in 1951 and a foundation fellow (1966) of its Australian counterpart. His work in Melbourne became increasingly research-focused: he carried out social and psychological studies first of delinquency and later of physical and mental illness.

In 1955 Meadows was appointed as a senior lecturer in psychology in the school of philosophy at the University of Adelaide. Next year the university established a separate department of psychology with Meadows as its head. He resigned in 1960 to work in the private sector—as manager of the market research division of W. D. Scott & Co. Pty Ltd in Sydney—before returning to academia in 1961 as a senior lecturer in the school of applied psychology at the University of New South Wales.

As his interest turned increasingly to the practical and commercial imperatives of market research, Meadows served as chairman of both the New South Wales division (1961-63) and the federal council (1964-66) of the Market Research Society of Australia and, in the 1970s, as editor of its journal; he was awarded life membership in 1973. He also worked in the market research field, auditing the radio and television audience surveys carried out by McNair Anderson Associates Pty Ltd. Retiring from the university in 1971, he established Arthur Meadows & Co. Pty Ltd, a consultancy that carried out a range of commissioned studies, including surveys of cinema, theatre and opera audiences.

As a teacher, clinician, researcher and consultant, Meadows worked in fields where psychology had a major impact. He showed intellectual curiosity and humanitarian concern. Predeceased (1970) by their elder daughter and survived by his wife and their son and younger daughter, he died on 18 December 1987 at St Leonards, Sydney, and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Journal of Marketing Research, vol 5, no 2, 1972, p 38
  • Bulletin of the Australian Psychological Society, May 1988, p 72
  • A9300, item MEADOWS A W (National Archives of Australia).

Citation details

Simon Cooke, 'Meadows, Arthur Wilkes (1911–1987)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 23 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (Melbourne University Press), 2012

View the front pages for Volume 18

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


11 June, 1911
Wigan, Lancashire, England


18 December, 1987 (aged 76)
St Leonards, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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