Cyril Alston Pearl (11 April 1904 – 3 March 1987) was an Australian journalist, editor, author, social historian, wit and television personality.[1]

Cyril Pearl
Cyril Pearl aged 20
Cyril Pearl aged 20
Born11 April 1904
Melbourne, Australia
Died3 March 1987
Sydney, Australia
Resting placeSydney
OccupationJournalist, author and television personality
Alma materMelbourne University
Notable worksWild Men of Sydney (1958), Morrison of Peking (1967)
Years active1933-1987
SpouseIrma Janetzki, Patricia Donohoe
ChildrenTwo sons

Life and careerEdit

He was born in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, Victoria on 11 April 1904, to Jewish gem-dealer, Joseph Pearl, and his wife Goldy, both immigrants from Britain. He was educated at Scotch College, Melbourne, and Hale College, in Perth, after the family moved to Western Australia. Cyril returned to Victoria to attended the University of Melbourne, where he studied philosophy and Russian, leaving without a degree.

During his first year at university he became co-editor of the student newspaper Farrago. He established the literary monthly, Stream, in 1931, which lasted only three issues. He also founded Transition Press, with artist Irma Janetzki, whom he married in 1934.

His career in journalism began in 1933 when he joined the staff of the Star newspaper in Melbourne. He had become an accomplished reporter, writer and sub-editor by the time it closed three years later. Together with other former Star journalists, he travelled north to Sydney where he joined (Sir) Frank Packer's Daily Telegraph, and was soon made features editor. Packer made him editor of The Sunday Telegraph, and, by 1948, his duties included editorship of a new monthly magazine, A.M..

He left The Daily Telegraph in 1950, and resigned from Consolidated Press entirely in 1953, and moved back to Melbourne. There he became a freelance writer, producing hundreds of articles, columns and reviews for magazines and newspapers, including The Sydney Morning Herald, Nation, Nation Review and the Weekend Australian.

He also wrote books, more than twenty of them, in the last three decades of his life. He had a special interest in social history, biography and politics, and research for these works sometimes took him overseas. His book Wild Men of Sydney, exposing corruption in colonial Sydney, was published in 1958. As an editor he published many great Australian writers, including Lennie Lower. He made a brief return to journalism after Rupert Murdoch persuaded him to become editor of The Sunday Mirror in Sydney in 1960.[2]

An accomplished raconteur and humorist, he appeared in television panel shows, such as Any Questions, and, Would you Believe?, in the 1960s and 1970s.[3]

A sociable man, his literary friends included Clive Turnbull, Richard Hughes, Clem Christesen, Peter Ryan, Alan Moorehead and Chester Wilmot.[4]

His wife, Irma, died in 1962. In 1965, he married Patricia Donohoe in Sydney. Pearl died in 1987, survived by his second wife, and the younger of his two sons.

Books by Cyril PearlEdit

  • Our Yesterdays (1954)
  • The Girl with the Swansdown Seat (1955)
  • Wild Men of Sydney (1958)
  • Bawdy Burns: The Christian Rebel (1958)
  • So, You Want to be an Australian (1959)
  • Always Morning: The Life of Richard Henry "Orion" Horne (1960)
  • So, You Want to Buy a House ... and Live in It (1961)
  • ANZAC Newsreel: A Picture History of Gallipoli (1963)
  • The Best of Lennie Lower (1963) (editor)
  • Pantaloons and Antics; or, Doodling with a Hermes (1964)
  • Morrison of Peking (1967)
  • Beer, Glorious Beer: With Incidental Observations ... (1969)
  • Dublin in Bloomtime: The City James Joyce Knew (1969)
  • Rebel Down Under: When the "Shenandoah" Shook Melbourne, 1865 (1970)
  • Hardy Wilson and His Old Colonial Architecture (1970)
  • Sydney Revels (1970)
  • The Victorian Era, 1850–1900 (1971)
  • Brilliant Dan Deniehy: A Forgotten Genius (1972)
  • Victorian Patchwork (1972)
  • Five Men Vanished: The Bermagui Mystery (1978)
  • The Three Lives of Gavan Duffy (1979)
  • The Dunera Scandal: Deported by Mistake (1983)
  • Limericks Down Under (1985) (co-editor with Alan Benjamin)


  1. ^ “Pearl, Cyril”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
  2. ^ Peter Ryan (2004), Brief Lives, Duffy & Snellgrove, Sydney p. 21.
  3. ^ Would You Believe? IMDB
  4. ^ Ryan, pp. 5–23.


  • Day, Mark (31 October 2008). "Cyril Pearl: a fortunate life". The Australian. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  • William H. Wilde, Joy Hooton & Barry Andrews, (1986) The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, p. 551.

External linksEdit