Philip Baxter: Man in Search of the Nuclear (St)age

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Philip Baxter arrived in Australia in January 1950 with a clear nation-building agenda: to bring Australia into the nuclear age. Over the next 25 years, he would lead the founding of institutions as diverse as the University of New South Wales, the Sydney Opera House and the Hi-Flux Australian Reactor, but he was ultimately frustrated in his aim of bringing nuclear power to Australia. Baxter retired in 1972, when it was clear his ambitions for the country would not be realised. Only then, embracing a love for amateur theatre he had nursed throughout his life, did he write his only known play: The Day the Sun Rose in the West. He mobilised his contacts from decades of arts patronage in an attempt to bring his play to the stage, only to be soundly rebuffed. After his death, the script was filed away among his papers. A morality play closely modelled on the work of George Bernard Shaw, The Day the Sun Rose in the West, might then represent a last-ditch effort from Baxter to intervene in public discourse. Despite the play’s shortcomings, this article positions Baxter as a key figure in the institutionalisation of Australian culture over three decades.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-107
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Australian Studies
Issue number1
Early online date15 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • cultural policy
  • higher education
  • National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA)
  • nuclear energy
  • Theatre


Dive into the research topics of 'Philip Baxter: Man in Search of the Nuclear (St)age'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this