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At the time of the application in January 1933, he had developed his proposal with the approval of A. D. Lindsay and Humphrey Sumner. He had written enthusiastically to Oxford friends for guidance, including William Entwhistle, who was familiar with the procedure. 98 Crawford’s timing was impeccable. Events in Spain were exciting public interest as the country embarked upon far-reaching changes. 32 An Historian’s Life After years of military dictatorship, elections in April 1931 produced a majority for the progressive parties.

Brereton inspired Crawford’s interest in fiction, poetry, theatre and drama. A benevolent and perceptive teacher, he recognised his student’s impatience and his ability to understand humanity with sympathy. 22 Wood, a nonconformist, taught British and European history and emphasised the importance of primary research. The University also exposed Crawford to liberalism, the creed espoused by George Wood and other Sydney intellectuals. 25 Under his tutor’s guidance, Crawford began to consider the importance of experience, liberalism, and ideas.

As a family man, such military service was hardly feasible but, even so, his level of engagement was never comparable to Nettie Palmer’s frenetic activities. When she returned from Europe, she embarked on a constant round of talks and addresses. Palmer was also instrumental in forming the Spanish Relief Committee. Crawford was never a member of the Committee and, although he collected its publications and social invitations, it is difficult to discern if this was for research purposes or if he was responding on a political and humanitarian level.

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An historian's life : Max Crawford and the politics of academic freedom by Fay Anderson

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