Germaine Greer's Background

Germaine Greer was born on the 29th January 1939 in Melbourne, Australia. Her father was a leading Australian insurance executive who also served in the wartime RAAF. Greer attended a private convent school and in 1956 she received a teaching scholarship enabling her to enrol at the University of Melbourne. In 1958 she graduated receiving a Bachelor of Arts, in 1963 she received a Master of Arts with 1st class honours and in 1968 she received a PhD from Cambridge University which she attended on a Commonwealth scholarship.

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Upon graduation in Melbourne, Greer moved to Sydney where she instantly became strongly caught up with the Sydney Push and the anarchist Sydney Libertarians at its centre. During her time at Cambridge University, Greer joined the student amateur acting company, the Cambridge Footlights, which commence her path into the London arts and media scene. Under a different name, she wrote a column for the humorous magazine Oz. In 1970 she guest edited the edition and it featured an article she wrote about the hand-knitted Cock Sock, ‘a snug corner for a chilly prick.’ During her time here she, under the impression that co-editors would do the same, posed naked for an underground magazine named Suck, which published the photographs “stripped to the buff, looking at the lens through my thighs.”

In 1968, Greer took up a job, a lectureship in English at the University of Warwick in Coventry, in the same year she also married an Australian journalist, but the marriage lasted only three weeks, eventually ending in divorce in 1973. In later years Greer admitted she was unfaithful several times during the three weeks. In 1970 Greer published her book, The Female Eunuch, which became an international bestseller and an important text in the feminist movement. The ideas she put forth in the book were controversial and brought her both supporters and opposition. In 1972 she left her job at Warwick University to travel the world to promote her new book, she also spent several years travelling through Africa and Asia where she explored the situation of women who had been raped.

Several years later, Greer appeared in a debate with William F. Buckley, a debate in which Buckley admits “she trounced him,” he also wrote, “Nothing I said, and memory reproaches me for having performed miserably, made any impression or any dent in the argument. She carried the house overwhelmingly.” By this time, in many interviews, Greer describes herself as an anarchist. In 1979, she was given the job in the University of Tulsa as the director for the Centre of the Study of Women’s Literature. In 1989 she was chosen as a special lecturer and fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge, but resigned in 1996 after attracting unwanted publicity over a transsexual colleague.

Greer later published several other books The Obstacle Race: The Fortunes of Women Painters and Their Work (1979) and Sex and Destiny: The Politics of Human Fertility (1984) in which she continues to be a great critique of Western behaviours toward sexuality, fertility and family. She continued to speculate the motive behind certain issues such as the promotion of birth control; she argued that birth control was not being encouraged for human welfare but rather due to the fear of rich people towards the fertility of the poor.
Greer is now retired but she still acts as Professor Emeritus in the Department of Literature and Comparative Studies at the University of Warwick.

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