Professor Charles Thomas (Tom) Stannage


Born 14 March 1944, died 4 October 2012

The history community in WA was shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden death of one of Australia’s most gifted historians, Tom Stannage, at only 68 years of age.

Tom was born in Subiaco, the second child and only son of the Rev. James Stannage and his wife Helen. His was a high achieving family as Tom’s sister, Miriam, was to become one of WA’s Notable artists.

Tom grew up in Bassendean after his father was appointed to St Mark’s Anglican Church, and showed promise as a talented footballer, playing for Swan Districts during the 1960s. He retained a love of football for the rest of his life and was instrumental in the formation of the West Coast Eagles AFL team.

While a student at the University of WA, Tom met his adored wife Maria and after he was awarded a MA in history, the couple lived in England while Tom completed his PhD at Cambridge University. They returned to Perth in 1971 where Tom took up a position as Professor of history at UWA. He wrote thought-provoking histories including The people of Perth which was published in 1979 and which challenged some of the widely held assumptions about WA’s past. A brilliant scholar, an inspirational teacher and a tireless mentor, Tom will be very much missed by all who were privileged to know him.

He was kindness itself to me while I was researching and writing the history of Bassendean, a suburb for which Tom always maintained a strong connection. He instilled in me as he did in so many others who were fortunate to have been taught by him, an enduring love of history and respect for the craft of writing about it.

Among the many accolades he received over his career were his award as Member of the Order of Australia for services to the study of history and museum development in 1997. That year also he was the recipient of the inaugural Prime Minister’s Award for Australia’s University Teacher of the Year. He was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2001.

Tom is survived by Maria, his two children Christopher and Kate, and four grandchildren and our deepest sympathy to them and all members of his family.