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Biographical entry Greener, Herbert Leslie (1900 - 1974)

13 February 1900
Wynberg, Cape Town, South Africa
8 December 1974
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Archaeologist, Educator, Journalist and Writer


Herbert Leslie Greener was a man of many talents. He was a journalist, author of both adult's and children's books, an artist and illustrator, and a gifted epigraphist. He was also a teacher of creative writing for Adult Education in Tasmania - an organization he was Foundation Director of. While a prisoner-of-war in Changi camp Greener illustrated the children's book The Happiness Box which fellow prisoner David Griffin had written as a Christmas present for the children in the camp. Hebert Greener made numerous trips to Egypt throughout his life, where he worked mainly for the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago in Luxor. He also wrote nine books, many of which were based on his war or Egyptian experiences.


After graduating from England's Royal Military College (1918), Greener spent five years as an officer in the Indian Army. This was followed by some years working as a journalist and artist in New Zealand and Australia. Greener moved to Paris in 1927 to study art then went to Egypt where he taught art and French at Victoria College in Alexandria. In 1936 he returned to Australia and took up journalism again. During the second world war Greener enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and was sent to Malaya as captain and divisional intelligence officer of the 8th Division (1941). Twelve months after arriving he was captured by the Japanese and sent to the Changi Prisoner-of-War Camp in Singapore.

When released from Changi and back in Australia, Greener took up journalism again and began writing two books about his war experience (He Lived in My Shoes & No Time to Look Back). He also became Foundation Director of the Adult Education in Tasmania and taught creative writing. In 1954 he resigned from that organization to concentrate on freelance writing and broadcasting. He returned to Egypt and the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago in Luxor to continue his epigraphic work. Later he worked for the Ikhnaton Temple project run by the University of Pennsylvania. He returned to Australia, and Tasmania in 1968.


Education - Royal Military College at Sandhurst, UK
c. 1918 - c. 1922
Career position - Officer in the Indian Army
1927 - 1928
Education - Art studies at the Académie Julian in Paris
1931 - c. 1935
Career position - Epigraphist at Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago in Luxor, Egypt
1936 - 1958
Life event - Moved to Australia (Sydney)
1940 - 1945
Career position - War service with the Australian Imperial Force
1942 - c. 1945
Life event - Prisoner of war at Changi, Singapore
Career position - Returned to Australia and transferred to the Reserve of Officers
c. 1945 - c. 1949
Career position - Journalist in Sydney
Career position - The Happiness Book published in Sydney
Career position - He Lived in My Shoes published
1949 - 1954
Career position - Foundation Director of Adult Education in Australia
Career position - No Time to Look Back published in New York
Career position - Moon Ahead published, New York
Award - Commonwealth Literary Fellowship received
Career position - Wizard Boatman of the Nile published in London
1958 - 1967
Career position - Epigraphist with the Epigraphic Survey Department of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago in Luxor, Egypt
Career position - High Dam Over Nubia published in London
Career position - The Discovery of Egypt published in London
Career position - Chairman of the Tasmanian Historical Society
Career position - Ross Bridge and the Sculpture of Daniel Herbert written with Norman Laird, published in Tasmania
Career position - Tea for a Stranger posthumously published
Career position - Discovering Egypt with Leslie Greener posthumously published in Tasmania

Archival resources

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • Herbert Leslie Greener - Records, 1908 - 1974, MS 5925; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

Published resources

Book Sections


McCarthy, G.J.