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Henry Darnley Naylor (1872–1945)

by W. R. Crocker

This article was published:

Henry Darnley Naylor (1872-1945), by unknown photographer, c1925

Henry Darnley Naylor (1872-1945), by unknown photographer, c1925

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 3986

Henry Darnley Naylor (1872-1945), classical scholar and advocate of collective security in international relations, was born on 21 February 1872 at Scarborough, Yorkshire, England, son of John Naylor, composer and organist of York Minster, and his wife Mary Ann, née Chatwin. He was educated at St Peter's School, York, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he gained a first class in the classical Tripos in 1894 and the Walker prize. He also distinguished himself as a footballer and a mountaineer.

In 1895, for health reasons, he took up the post of lecturer at Ormond College in the University of Melbourne; from 1903 he was vice-master. In 1906 he was appointed professor of classics in the University of Adelaide. He had married on 21 July 1898 Jessie Cairns Lloyd (d.1913) of Melbourne, by whom he had a daughter; on 4 January 1916 he married Ethel Richman Wilson, a nurse and leading member of several women's organizations, by whom he had a son.

Powerfully built and athletic, Naylor was a singularly handsome man: with clean-cut features, massive forehead, thick white hair and candid blue eyes. His natural charm was heightened by his voice and diction, by his humour, cheerfulness and friendliness, and by his wide interests, including music and the literature and history of England, France and Italy, as well as of the classical world (he knew five modern languages). An uncommonly stimulating teacher, he left a lifelong mark on his students, morally and socially as well as intellectually. He advocated the reform of classical teaching and rejoiced in what he saw as the 'marked disappearance of class distinction' in Australia. Although of Anglican background, he was now a Presbyterian and opposed gambling. Among his hobbies was bridge, which he played well. He was a founder and president of the South Australian Amateur Football League.

Like his mentor Gilbert Murray, he was a serious scholar and a serious citizen of the world. His specialist interests were Euripides, Horace, and Latin word order. He contributed frequently to the Classical Review and the Classical Quarterly as well as to the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1929). Among his published works were Latin and English Idiom (Cambridge, 1909), which is also a study of Livy; Short Parallel Syntax of Latin and Greek (Adelaide, 1910); More Latin and English Idiom (Cambridge, 1915); and Horace, Odes and Epodes (Cambridge, 1922). He was vice-president of the British Classical Association in 1913. He gave much effort to conserving and improving the quality of English in Australia, spoken and written, but became pessimistic about it.

On the creation of the League of Nations Naylor perhaps did more than anyone to make Australians aware of its existence, purpose and activities. At the time he was active as a member of the council of the University of Adelaide, as the founding chairman of Scotch College, Adelaide, as chairman of the Workers' Educational Association, and, soon, as a member of the council of St Mark's College, but the League of Nations Union, which he founded and guided in South Australia, took up a part of every day.

In 1927 Naylor retired to Cumberland in England to give his time mainly to public affairs, particularly the League of Nations Union. His campaigning, devoted and tireless, increased in proportion to the worsening of the international situation. In 1929 he stood, unsuccessfully, as a Liberal Party candidate for Whitehaven. The outbreak of World War II gave him a desolatory sense of failure, a little heightened by his son's record as a gallant soldier. Naylor died on 8 December 1945 at Cockermouth, Cumberland.

Select Bibliography

  • Mail (Adelaide), 15 Mar 1913
  • 'Obituary', Times (London), 11 Dec 1945, p 6
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 12 Dec 1945
  • D5390, miscellaneous (State Records of South Australia)
  • personal knowledge
  • private information.

Citation details

W. R. Crocker, 'Naylor, Henry Darnley (1872–1945)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 18 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (Melbourne University Press), 1986

View the front pages for Volume 10

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Henry Darnley Naylor (1872-1945), by unknown photographer, c1925

Henry Darnley Naylor (1872-1945), by unknown photographer, c1925

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 3986

Life Summary [details]


21 February, 1872
Scarborough, Yorkshire, England


8 December, 1945 (aged 73)
Cockermouth, Cumberland, England

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