bc FRANK SYDNEY GREENOP Editor of Australia's own MAN magazine
Editor of Australia's own
MAN magazine

Greg Ray

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Just ONE page on the Collecting Books and Magazines web site based in Australia.
Page updated 22nd April, 2010.

Frank Sydney Greenop, the long-time editor of Man magazine, was a versatile writer, linguist and poet who not only edited Australia’s most risqué mainstream publication but churned out political monographs, children’s stories, patriotic verses, pulp novels and a competent history of Australian magazine publishing.

Born in Battersea, London on March 12, 1913, Greenop was 10 when his family came to Australia. His father fell sick and he left school at 13.

His mother wanted him to be a butcher, but instead in 1928 he got a job as a copy boy with The Daily Telegraph.

According to his daughter, Mrs Susan Marshall of Brisbane, the young Greenop made a point of going to the printing hall after his shift was finished, simply to learn as much as possible about the business.

By the age of 24 he was chosen by Kenneth Murray to edit the experimental Man, a job he did with verve and enthusiasm.

Former Man staffer Herbert Young, writing in his 2002 memoir Sweet and Sour, described Greenop as “a good-humoured individual easily identified by his colourful bow-ties and a moon face embellished with a bushy moustache. He looked like a well-fed tomcat and enjoyed yarning after work over a scotch at the Metropole. Unfazed by pressure, he could churn out six thousand words of copy in a race against the deadline.”

Greenop married his wife Margaret on April 2, 1937 (shortly after Man began publishing) and the couple had four children (one of whom died in infancy).

Greenop was an accomplished self-taught linguist and Mrs Marshall recalls him speaking seven languages with some fluency. Family tradition holds that he was involved in secret work during the war - while he continued in his role with K.G. Murray - and it is thought this was probably translating or interpreting.

He wrote many articles and fiction stories for Man, as well as dozens of whimsical, patriotic and sentimental poems, many of which were collected in a volume of his verses published by Murray during the last years of the war.

Greenop was passionate about history and wrote a number of books on historical subjects.

His major books were: Coast of Tragedy, a history of shipwrecks off the Australian coast; Who Travels Alone, the story of famous New Guinea explorer Miklouho-Maclay and The Life and Achievements of Captain James Cook.

In 1947, while he was “Editor in Chief of K.G. Murray’s string of magazines”, Greenop wrote his History of Magazine Publishing in Australia, a solid work that remains a standard reference today.

During the 1950s he wrote detective novels and stories, including a series of pulp novels for the Cleveland group, using the pseudonym Robert Dudgeon. The protagonist of these stories was the detective Max Strong.

Mrs Marshall recalled that her father used the nom de plume because he didn’t want his own name on “trashy novels”.

In the 1960s he also published a series of 12 children’s books (the Moorooba books), with titles such as Lazy Loper, Koalas Drink Dew, Catapult for Tom, Bunyip with a Swag and Magpie Hero. These were illustrated by Col Cameron.

During his long and productive career he also worked for Readers Digest and Mrs Marshall said he wrote that stable’s popular “do it yourself” manual, often building the projects at home to ensure they were really practical.

His daughter recalled him as a man to whom writing was everything. He was an accomplished speaker and could mix with any kinds of people.

He could be very generous but he didn’t tolerate fools,” she said.

Greenop died suddenly on June 15, 1975, at home in his lounge room after a stressful day.

Any problems or questions? Email John at chiefchook@gmail.com

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