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Long, Charles Richard (1860–1944)

by R. J. W. Selleck

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

Charles Richard Long (1860-1944), educationist, was born on 31 August 1860 at Wallan Wallan, Victoria, son of Henry Samuel Long and his wife Sarah, née Sayers, who had both migrated from England in 1857. After mining ventures failed, the Longs settled at Alexandra where Henry owned a shoemaking shop and set his son an example of active work in organizations such as the Freemasons, Oddfellows, Orangemen, dramatic and debating clubs, the local council and mechanics' institute. Recognizing his addiction to alcohol, Henry became a Rechabite as, in time, did Charles, though without his father's motivation.

Despite shyness, poor sight and acute self-consciousness as an albino, Charles successfully completed a pupil-teachership, begun on 1 February 1877. In August 1880 a nervous, naive but ambitious country-boy, he entered the Training Institution in Melbourne where F. J. Gladman was preparing an impressive group of young teachers to work for the reform of Victorian education. He completed the course by July 1881 with very high marks and taught for the next nine years, mainly at State School 1567, Richmond. Here he met Louisa Catherine, daughter of Louis Michel. They married at North Carlton on 19 April 1886 and when she died in 1905 they had had eight children. While at Richmond Long graduated B.A. (1887) and M.A. (1889) from the University of Melbourne and, with colleagues such as Frank Tate, attempted to improve teachers' salaries and to remedy defects in Victorian state education.

In 1890 Long was appointed an inspector of schools and next year began lecturing at the Training College. In this work and outside the college, he endeavoured to introduce some of the educational ideas and practices becoming popular in Britain; but, despite his earnestness, he had made little progress when in 1893 government retrenchments closed the college and Long had to take work lecturing to pupil-teachers.

In 1895 dissatisfaction with the Royal Readers used in elementary schools prompted the preparation of a monthly School Paper similar to the Children's Hour established in South Australia by J. A. Hartley. Long was given editorial responsibility. The first issue appeared in 1896 and from then until its replacement in 1929 by the Victorian Readers the School Paper was the official reading material in schools; and for long after 1929 it was used as supplementary reading material. Long was also foundation editor of the official Education Gazette and Teachers' Aid, first published in 1900. His own numerous works ranged from pamphlets on educational method to a jointly written history of Victorian state education (1922). He prepared many textbooks and, as the titles of two of them, Stories of Australian Exploration (1903) and British Worthies and Other Men of Might (1912), suggest, he combined an ardent love of Britain (which, during the South African War and World War I, lent a lurid jingoism to the School Paper) with a strong Australian nationalism.

Long was a member of Theodore Fink's royal commission on technical education (1899-1901), and though disturbed by its attacks on some senior officers of the Education Department, he supported many of its suggestions for reform. He lectured for University Extension, was a member of the Shakespeare Society and a foundation member of both the (Royal) Historical Society of Victoria and the Australian Literature Society; he also helped to popularize the work of Adam Lindsay Gordon. Until 1921 his editorial work was combined with some ordinary inspectorial duties, and though these often proved irksome they enabled him to meet another teacher, Margaret Ellen Willard, whom he married on 16 December 1908 at St Jude's Church, Carlton, and by whom he had a son and daughter.

After his retirement from the Education Department in 1925, Long was asked to return to work on the Victorian Readers, which he did from 1 January 1927 until 30 June 1928. His second retirement left him free to work even more actively for the Church of England, of which he was a fervent member, and for other societies and groups. He died at Frankston on 14 December 1944, survived by all but one of his children, and was buried in Frankston cemetery. Through his publications Long offered Victoria's schoolchildren a moral vision suffused with incipient Australian nationalism, an unwavering faith in the superiority of British ways and the middle-class values of thrift, industriousness, honesty, decent ambition and respect for the social order—all of which he adhered to in his own life.

Select Bibliography

  • E. L. French (ed), Melbourne Studies in Education 1963 (Melb, 1964)
  • Education Department (Victoria), Vision and Realisation, L. J. Blake ed (Melb, 1973)
  • Education Gazette and Teachers' Aid, 20 Feb 1926, 27 Jan 1945
  • Victorian Historical Magazine, 21 (1945), no 1
  • Education Department (Victoria), records (History section, Education Dept, Melbourne).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

R. J. W. Selleck, 'Long, Charles Richard (1860–1944)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.online.anu.edu.au/biography/long-charles-richard-7223/text12503, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 26 September 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

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