Talking History: The Death of Dr Duncan

The drowning of University of Adelaide law lecturer Dr Duncan in the River Torrens on 10 May 1972 is one of South Australia’s – and the nation’s – most notorious unsolved murders. His death shocked the community and reverberates 50 years later.

On the exact 50th anniversary of Duncan’s death, come hear this fascinating – and free – talk from Tim Reeves, an award-winning author and the acknowledged authority on the case. Reeves pulls together the complex strands of a police investigation, coroner’s inquest, New Scotland Yard inquiry and trial. He paints a haunting picture of an introverted man who had been in Adelaide only seven weeks, of a society where male homosexuality was a taboo that could lead to imprisonment, and of a police force that used violence as a deterrent and for sport.

Reeves also examines the three attempts at gay law reform in South Australia triggered by Duncan’s killing, before the state led the nation and English-speaking world when it embraced decriminalisation in 1975.

The talk is based on Reeves’ new book, The Death of Dr Duncan, which is a meticulously researched and richly illustrated examination of events. It reveals the long cast of characters and their role that tragic night in 1972 and in the years and decades following, and identifies the individuals and organisations that fought battles as the South Australian Parliament grappled with legislative change. It is a story both disturbing and captivating.

The book, published by Wakefield Press, will be available for sale – with signings by the author – after the talk.

Bookings via Eventbrite

Napier Building, G03 Theatre, The University of Adelaide
259 North Terrace, Adelaide, SA, 5000

Presented in partnership with the University of Adelaide