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Kevin Barry Magarey (1925-2017)

MSS 0124

Biographical Note

Kevin Magarey was born on 18 November 1925 in Norwood in Adelaide, South Australia, to Rupert and Elsie (nee Cowell) Magarey. Kevin was educated at St Peter’s College until he quit in 1943 at the age of 17 to enlist in the Australian Navy. Following the War, he studied a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Adelaide from 1947-49. With the support of the Women’s League and by voting for himself, he defeated Don Dunstan to become president of the Student Representative Council. While at University, Kevin became a Catholic, to the shock of his Baptist family.

His continued his studies at Magdalen College, Oxford University, where he studied under C.S. Lewis and also met J.R.R. Tolkien, Evelyn Waugh and other luminaries. He was awarded an Honours degree in 1954 and a Master of Arts in 1957. During his time at Oxford Kevin considered joining a religious order in Italy and also became stranded and destitute in Goa, India, after having gone there to see the remains of St Francis Xavier. His family telegraphed him money to return home but instead he embarked for South Africa where he was appointed a lecturer at the University of Cape Town. Kevin also taught for six months at Pius XII University College in Lesotho, where he met his future wife, Margaret.

In 1960 he was appointed lecturer in English at the University of Adelaide, where he enjoyed teaching Arthurian legend and Chaucer became an authority on Shakespeare and on African and Australian literature. Magarey progressed senior lecturer and retired in 1990. He was also the founding co-editor of the multi-disciplinary journal Southern Review, a position he held for 13 years from 1963 to 1976.

While at the University, Kevin met a South Sudanese refugee called Mariano Ngor who was working as a security guard. Through this friendship, he joined others in setting up the North Africa Interest Group of Community Aid Abroad. From the early 1980s for well over a decade, the group lobbied and met with foreign ministers, inspired churches to adopt of the cause of the south Sudanese and successfully petitioned the ALP to support South Sudanese self-determination. In 2011 South Sudan became an independent state and in 2012 Mariano was appointed South Sudanese ambassador to Kenya.

Kevin, with his wife Margaret, were founding members of the Newman Association and Teams of Our Lady in the 1960s and maintained his deeply intellectual commitment to Catholicism throughout his adult life. In his later years he developed vascular dementia and passed away on 8 June 2017.

Adapted from the obituaries “Academic, Activist and Good Christian” The Advertiser, 14/10/2017, p. 56 and “Visionary sustained by unshakeable faith”, Southern Cross Wednesday August 30, 2017

The Papers were initially donated to the State Library of SA in 2008 and transferred to the University of Adelaide Library in 2009. Additional records were donated in 2016 by Magarey’s family.

Contents Listing

Box 1

Series 1: Undergraduate and early career  15 cm

1.1. Letter from Magarey to his parents from HMAS Warrnambool September 1945

1.2: University of Adelaide undergraduate (roughly sorted)

  • Student notes, papers and essays mainly on teaching education (Principles of Education, Educational Psychology, History, Logic, Philosophy), also handouts re student life and associations eg Australian Committee of World Student Relief, State Peace Council
  • Lecture notes, essays etc English I-III 1946-48
  • Letter from Ken Tregonning resigning as editor of On Dit 1948

1.3 University of Oxford

Letters between Magarey and others while at Oxford ca 1952-60, plus essay on Wordsworth

1.4 University of Cape Town: correspondence, administrative and course material 1957-59

Box 2

Series 2: University of Adelaide, Dept of English  1 m.

2.1. Kevin Magarey: staff positions, exchanges, study leaves etc

2.2 Teaching: general. Includes

  • syllabi, exam and essay questions, handouts, departmental notices, visitors 1960s-81
  • 1969 student / staff committees, including radical broadsheets ‘Investigations’ 1 & 3, student questionnaire
  • 1973 Syllabus Committee, syllabus revision
  • proposed course of religious studies 1975

Box 3

2.3. Lecture notes, essay questions etc on specific topics: Donne, Practical Criticism (incl. Staff survey 1966), Malory (English III), Spencer’s Fairie Queen, Maxine Hong Kingston (American/Chinese writer)

2.4. English I-Postgraduate teaching (essay topics and exam questions, handouts, lecture notes, reading lists etc)

  • English I (1980s), including English IA
  • English II 1960s-70s (includes administration files and correspondence)

Box 4

  • English III & IIIA&B 1976-79
  • Honours 1969-84
  • Postgraduate seminars 1868-86

2.5. Commonwealth Literature / New Literatures in English

  • General: ‘Records’ pre-1981; Commonwealth Literatures/NLE course information1973-90; NLE ‘Introduction to’ 1987-90; NLE exams 1989-90; New Literatures in English ‘Summing up’ 1990; NLE Factuals Library; Booklists
  • Caribbean: V.S. Naipaul, Claude McKay ‘Banana Bottom’; Jean Rhys
  • India: Narayan, Tagore, Raja Rao, Rushdie

Box 5

  • South African literature: General course information; Peoples plays; Bibliography of S. African novelists; The South African Novel and Race;
  • South Africa: Nadine Gordimer (4 folders including interview and proposed book); Wozo Albert

Box 6

  • African: Doris Lessing (2 folders); Ngugi wa Thiong ‘o; Soyinka (4 folders)
  • New Zealand: Keri Holme; NZ literature conference, lecture notes
  • Canada: Margaret Lawrence
  • Pacific: Albert Wendt; Som Prakesh (Fiji)
  • Philippines: M. Joaquin

Box 7

2.6. Talks and writings

  • Talks on or presented while in South Africa, with some Letters to the Editor
  • Other talks, including correspondence and some reviews
  • Talk: Lady Macbeth’s children
  • Select publications
  • Southern Review files

2.7. Other

  • South Australian School of South African Studies proposal 1977
  • Dept of Advanced Education course ‘The Poet and His Act’ 1963
  • Renaissance Study Group / AU Graduates Union material
  • Medieval Society 1976
  • Poetry Readings, other societies
  • East Timor campaign ca 1989-93

Box 8

2.8. University related correspondence 1960s to 1990 (roughly sorted). Includes separate folders

  • English Dept and Southern Review correspondence ca 1970-81
  • Correspondence received during study leave 1970-71
  • Trip to South Africa 1983-84
  • Study leave 1983-84

Box 9

Series 3. South African Aid Fund Committee of South Australia ca 1960-66  15 cm.

“A non-political committee which aims to raise funds for the families of political prisoners and the legal defence of those standing trial for political offences in South Africa” set up by Kevin and Margaret Magarey after her migration from South Africa

  • Correspondence, press releases, handouts, publicity for events, newspaper clippings, minutes of meetings

Box 10

Series 4. North Africa Interest Group / Community Aid Abroad  60 cm.

Set up by Kevin and Mariano Moore. Housed in folders as organised by Magarey

  • CAA Headquarters ca 1966
  • CAA Headquarter publications ca 1994-98
  • Catholic Church Caritas Aust. Sudan Appeal 1998
  • Margaret M Bako letter 1997
  • Amnesty Sudan 1995
  • Non-violence
  • CAA Actions for Sudan
  • CAA Sudan Advocacy Group
  • CAA NAIG Advocacy Group opportunities
  • CAA NAIG consensus procedures
  • CAA NAIG embassies campaign 1996
  • CAA NAIG enrolment letter and brochures
  • Eritrea
  • CAA NAIG Minutes to 1894
  • CAA NAIG “The Three Nuns” - SPLM/A (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement / Army)
  • SRRA (Sudan Relief Rehabilitation Association) Australia
  • SPLM ‘Recent key documents’ 1999
  • Sudan: John Teng
  • Sudan: Maree Worthington kidnapping
  • SPLM National Convention & IGADD Peace Talks 1994
  • Sudan: news articles from web

Box 11

  • Sudan SPLM delegation to Australia
  • Sudan SPLM
  • Sudan Democratic Gazette 1997
  • Sudan Update News Bulletin 1998-90
  • South Australian Sudan Relief Committee minutes 1989-90
  • South Australian Sudan Relief Committee minutes 1989-90
  • South Australian Sudan Relief Committee membership forms
  • South Australian Sudan Relief Committee [miscellaneous]
  • South Australian Sudan Relief Committee form letters
  • South Australian Sudan Relief Committee flyers, media releases etc
  • South Australian Sudan Relief Committee filing 1990
  • South Australian Sudan Relief Committee constitution
  • Sudan South Australian Council of Churches Ecumenical Sudan Support Group
  • Scottish Churches Sudan Group
  • Sudan / Dr Richard Rogers
  • Sudan “Results”
  • Sudan resource guide
  • Sudan – reports of committees
  • Sudan – reprints
  • Sudan Political Charter 1996
  • Sudan – Catholic Church – Fr Raphael Riel Col. Etc
  • Sudan – Mazrui Plan
  • Mailing list
  • Letter writing
  • Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace
  • Sudan, Islam and Human Rights
  • Sudan – Islamic Conferences

Box 12

  • Financial statements 1996-7
  • CAA Sudan Appeal
  • Relief Society of Tigray / UK Support Committee
  • Somalia
  • Sudan – Romanes correspondence
  • Sudan – radiothon
  • Sudan – publicity
  • Sudan – news items
  • Sudan / Eritrea
  • Sudan display
  • Sudan – factions in Australia
  • Sudan women’s rights
  • Sudan – World Court letter
  • Sudan – slavery
  • Sudan – famine
  • Sudan refugees in North Sudan
  • Sudan refugees
  • Sudan – people to contact
  • Sudan – the Nuba
  • Sudan – news items 1998
  • Miscellaneous correspondence
  • Issues of SPLM/SPLA Update 1992-1996 (v. incomplete); Sudan Update June 1993; Sudan Newsletter 1992; Southern Sudan vision 1993 & 1995; other papers, reprints etc related to Sudan

Note: some folders on general CAA matters and other groups were disposed of due to mould, and material rehoused and mouldy folders disposed of

Box 13

Series 5. Mona Tur (Aboriginal woman – history / interviews)  13 cm

Papers towards a proposed publication of autobiography and other books by Tur suitable for use in primary schools, which was not published due to her illness

Aunty Mona Ngitji Ngitji Tur was born in 1936 at Hamilton Bore, about 100kms from Oodnadatta, north-west South Australia. Ngitji Ngijti was her Anangu name meaning Cicada. She served as a distinguished cultural educator, oral linguist and interpreter who has worked in all three Adelaide universities, and as a cultural broker for Aboriginal women in South Australia who have been members of the Stolen Generation. She was also the first Aboriginal Artist in Residence with Carclew Youth Performing Arts Centre, performing in numerous schools teaching children about Anangu culture, storytelling, song and dance.


  • Ms and typed transcripts of interviews of Mona Tur by Kevin Magarey
  • Cassette tape of interview?
  • Drafts of autobiography and related notes and sample publications
  • Drafts of other works by Tur eg Aboriginal foods
  • Correspondence 1973-76 re publication of proposed book, including Cath Ellis, Rigby’s Publishers etc
  • Lecture handouts for Western Teachers College, Aboriginal Studies A 1973
  • Miscellaneous notes re book and Aboriginal issues and studies, and Action for World Development matters

Cheryl Hoskin
July 2020

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