Len Fox Receives Honorary Membership of the Sydney Branch

At a recent meeting of the Sydney Branch committee, held at Sydney University on 2nd September 1987, longstanding ASSLH supporter and historian Len Fox was made an honorary member of the Sydney Branch by unanimous resolution.

In proposing honorary membership for Len, Sydney Branch secretary, John Shields, made the following remarks:

The Sydney Branch currently has three Honorary Members – Lloyd Ross, Issy Wyner and Edna Ryan. Each has made a major, long-term contribution to the labour movement and to the writing of labour history and the Branch has seen fit to acknowledge their work by conferring Honorary Life Membership on each. Although a small gesture perhaps, it is one which is invariably motivated by sincere gratitude and respect. Tonight, I would like to propose that a similar gesture of appreciation be made towards Len Fox, who coincidentally is here with us tonight on other business.

Len is and for many years has been one of the Australian Left’s foremost writers, intellectuals and historians. A Science graduate of Melbourne University, that great well-spring of progressive intellectual thought, Len in the 1930s took on the role of General Secretary of the Victorian Branch of the Movement Against War and Fascism. In Sydney in the 1940s, he worked as a journalist on State Labor, C.P.A. and union newspapers and in the 1950s and 1960s was actively involved in a wide range of worthy causes: from anti-Stalinism and the anti-Vietnam War campaign to the fight for social justice for Aboriginal Australians and the struggle against transnational domination of the Australian economy. Research and writing were an integral part of these many involvements. Len’s publications on Australian political economy, politics, labour history and cultural history are legion. His writings on Eureka and foreign ownership and control are particularly highly thought of. Like his wife, Mona Brand, Len has also made a valuable contribution to Australian cultural life. His latest book, in fact, is an account of the life and work of his artist-uncle, the turn-of-the-century Australian impressionist, Emmanuel Phillips-Fox.

More to the point, though, Len has had a long and close association with the ASSLH and our Branch. The very first issue of Labour History carried a splendid article by him on “Early Australian May Days”. That, of course, was back in 1962. A member of the Sydney Branch from its foundation, Len was amongst the first of our guest speakers. That was in 1983 and his topic was “The Left, Broad and Narrow, in Australia”. Early in the following year, Mona, Len’s wife, addressed the Branch on the history of Sydney’s New Theatre. Both talks were particularly well received by members. This year, Len made a generous donation of his works to our Branch’s fledgling archive and he is currently acting as Branch correspondent with the International May Day Celebration Committee in Milan, in concert with Bob James, who is also here with us tonight. There can be no doubt that Len had made and continues to make an immensely valuable contribution to the work of our Branch and the ASSLH.

Accordingly, I have great pleasure in moving as follows: “That this committee, in recognition of his long and valued contribution to Australian labour history, bestow on Len Fox Honorary Life Membership of the Sydney Branch of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History”.

* Sadly, as mentioned elsewhere in Hummer, Dr Lloyd Ross passed away on 7th September, 1987.