The age of David Syme

The age of David Syme

David Syme: Man of The Age

by Elizabeth Morrison

Monash University Publishing, $39.95 hb, 447 pp, 9781922235572

David Syme made his name and his fortune in newspapers – specifically The Age – and his life’s course might be compared with the workings of a gigantic web offset press.

I have watched such machines at work. They start off slow; the rolls of naked newsprint snake by gently, round and round. When the presses roar to life the noise is astonishing; the paper is stretched like the thinnest of skins as it flashes, smooth and furious, through the machine, soaking up words and pictures. If the paper breaks, the whole thing unravels and the run must be reset. So it was with Syme, the brilliant but perplexing man who owned and ran The Age from 1860 until his death in 1908. At its peak in the 1880s, only the London dailies had higher circulations. One in ten people in Melbourne bought a copy.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Rachel Buchanan

Rachel Buchanan

Rachel Buchanan is the curator, Germaine Greer Archive, University of Melbourne, and a former ABR Fellow.

Published in October 2014 no. 365

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.