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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Boulger, Edward Vaughan (1846–1910)

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

Edward Vaughan Boulger (b.1846), university professor, was born in Dublin, the only son of Persse Boulger, solicitor, and grandson of Major Persse Boulger, 93rd Regiment, of Loughrea, County Galway. At Trinity College, Dublin, he was a first-class prizeman in his first year, winning a classical scholarship ahead of Alexander Leeper, later warden of Trinity College, Melbourne. As first senior moderator and gold medallist in classics Boulger graduated in 1869 with the highest honours in history, political science and English literature. Later he was awarded M.A., D.Litt., for Latin and Greek verse contributed to Dublin Translations, edited by Robert Yelverton Tyrrell. In 1871 he married Lizzie, second daughter of Dr John Denham, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin.

Boulger studied at universities in Canada and Germany and in 1869 became lecturer in English at the Queen's Institute, Dublin, and moved to Queen's College, Cork, as professor of Greek in 1875. There he also acted as professor of modern languages for a year. He was warmly farewelled with a glowing testimonial when he resigned to take the chair of English language and literature and mental and moral philosophy in the University of Adelaide to which he was appointed on 1 July 1883. He arrived in September and made a pleasing impression by his eloquent lectures, profound scholarship and his wide linguistic knowledge. He founded the University Shakespeare Society and was much in demand in literary circles. He was the second member of the teaching staff to be elected to the University Council and represented the university on the Board of Governors of the Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery in 1885-93. In 1886 he applied for the chair of modern literature in the University of Sydney; although unsuccessful he was supported by testimonials from eleven distinguished classicists in Britain, Dr Leeper and Professor Edward Morris of Melbourne as well as Bishop George Kennion and the university chancellor, Samuel Way, who both praised the great impetus he had given to intellectual study in Adelaide.

Boulger's appointment in Adelaide was renewed each year until 1894 when he agreed, in addition, to act for a term as professor of classics in place of David Kelly who was ill. After Kelly died in March Boulger was appointed to the chair of classics but also agreed to continue his duties as professor of English at half-salary until a successor was appointed. Perhaps under pressure of work Boulger resorted to stimulants and in November failed to perform his duties at the Board of Examiners; since this was a second offence, he was asked for an explanation. His resignation from the university was accepted in December and thereafter his name disappeared from South Australian directories.

Select Bibliography

  • Register (Adelaide), 6 July, 13 Oct 1883, 4, 8 Dec 1894
  • University of Adelaide records.

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Citation details

'Boulger, Edward Vaughan (1846–1910)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 29 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

View the front pages for Volume 3

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