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Godfrey James Linge (1932–2015)

by R. Gerard Ward

Godfrey J.R. Linge was a member of the academic staff of the Research School of Pacific Studies, ANU, from 1957 until his retirement in December 1997, and was a member of the Emeritus Faculty since 1998. Born in Durham, England, in 1932, he attended St Paul’s School, London, from 1945 to 1950, and was then a student in the Department of Geography, London School of Economics, from 1951 to 1954. His scholarly abilities were soon clear when he was awarded the Director’s Essay Prize for First Year students in 1952, and the Gladstone Memorial Prize of 1953 and 1954. He graduated BSc (Econ.) in 1954. He was then awarded the Goldsmith’s Company Postgraduate Travelling Scholarship and became a full-time PhD student at Auckland University College where he conducted research on the origin, growth and contemporary geography of manufacturing in Auckland for his PhD. While in Auckland, his fiancée, Janet Ormrod, joined him from England and they were married in Auckland.

Linge’s first academic post was as Assistant Lecturer at Canterbury University College and he completed his PhD for the University of New Zealand while there. He and Janet moved to Canberra in March 1959, when he was appointed Research Fellow in the Department of Geography, Research School of Pacific Studies. Until he retired in 1997, he was a stalwart member of the Department of Geography, and then the Department of Human Geography after the former unit was divided into two departments. In 1961, he was appointed to the tenured position of Fellow, and later to Senior Fellow (1967), Professorial Fellow (1970) and Professor (1992). He was elected Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia in 1986, and for 10 years was an active member of Academy committees. His research focused initially on the geography of industrialisation in Australia, the culmination of which was the publication in 1979 of Industrial Awakening: A Geography of Australian Manufacturing 1788 to 1890. One reviewer rightly described this massive (845 page) volume as ‘magisterial’. Later his regions of interest widened to cover peripheral economies and other regions, including those of the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and later China. His publications included over 25 books and monographs, some co-edited or co-authored, and at least 91 refereed papers and chapters in books. After retirement he became a Visiting Fellow in the Contemporary China Centre in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies and continued his work on China’s economic geography.

Apart from his specifically academic work of research and writing, Godfrey was active in external work with academic geographical journals in Australia, and internationally with the International Geographical Union’s Commission on Industrial Systems, of which he was Vice-Chairman (1981–84) and then Chairman for two terms, 1984–92. He served as a member of a number of advisory committees to government departments, including the Bureaus of Statistics, Industrial Economics, and Printing and Allied Industries, and was adviser to the Federal Government’s Fraser Island Environmental Inquiry. Within the ANU he was involved with management of the campus site, including preparing a brief for the Site Planner in 1968–69, and serving on the Building and Grounds Committee and later the Campus Advisory Committee. He also chaired the ANU Press Management Committee for over five years in the 1990s.

Although he was active in his research and campus work, Godfrey was a relatively private person. Late in his life he was incapacitated and lived in a residential care home where he died on 9 June 2015. Janet Linge died in January 2016.

Additional Resources

Citation details

R. Gerard Ward, 'Linge, Godfrey James (1932–2015)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


Durham, England


9 June, 2015 (aged ~ 83)
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

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