Edward Sugden was the first master of Melbourne University’s Queen’s College, a position he held for forty years. One needs to provide this identification, because although in his day Sugden was regarded as one of Melbourne’s best-known citizens, his is one of those names that has dropped from view. Along with his contemporaries Alexander Leeper of Trinity College and John MacFarland of Ormond, he contributed to what Wilfrid Prest calls ‘the golden age’ of Melbourne University’s colleges.
It is revealing that Renate Howe confesses that the original intention had been to commission a biography of Sugden. No one was forthcoming: that the prospect was not sufficiently enticing is a comment, perhaps, on the sagging interest in institutional religion. Instead, a symposium was held and this volume is the result: its eighteen authors survey Sugden’s life and career, ranging from his role as a theologian, educationist and preacher, to his contribution to fields as diverse as music, drama and public life.