Profile - Esmonde Higgins (1897-1960)

Esmonde Higgins was born in Melbourne in 1897 and completed a BA at the University of Melbourne in 1918. He was a talented student but gave up the opportunity to complete his honours degree so that he could enlist in the Australian Imperial Force. He served in France before joining Oxford University in 1919 to read modern history. After travelling through the Soviet Union in 1920 he joined the Communist Party of Great Britain. 

Esmonde returned to Australia in 1924 and sought work with the Communist Party of Australia’s (CPA) Research Bureau. For many years he served as a CPA office holder and as publicist for the Labour Weekly. In 1928 he travelled to Moscow as a delegate to the sixth congress of the Communist International (Comintern). 

In 1936 Esmonde relocated with his wife Joy to Tasmania, where he lectured with the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA). He then proceeded to lecture with the WEA in Auckland and with the University of Sydney throughout the 1940s to 1960s. 

Esmonde Higgins died of cancer on 25 December 1960, survived by his wife and two children. 



Roe, M 1996, Esmonde Macdonald Higgins (1897-1960), Australian Dictionary of Biography, volume 14, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, accessed <>


Esmonde Higgins with sister Nettie Palmer, undated (N162-Album 10-258)

Esmonde Higgins with sister Nettie Palmer, undated (N162-Album 10-258)