Geoffrey W. Sargent (1923–1976) was born in Plymouth, England. He studied classics at Cambridge University and did a crash course in Japanese while serving in the Army Intelligence Corps in 1943–46. He returned to Cambridge and completed the Oriental Tripos in 1949 and a doctoral thesis on the Tokugawa novelist Ihara Saikaku in 1954. He was a Visiting Professor of English and Latin at Kochi University in 1954–56 and a Visiting Professor of English Literature at Konan University in Kobe in 1956–58. In 1959 he joined the Department of Oriental Studies at the University of Sydney, where he became Associate Professor in 1967. He was president of the Oriental Society of Australia in 1963–65.
Sargent was the author of The Japanese Family Storehouse: Or, The Millionaire’s Gospel Modernised (1959). He translated stories of several modern Japanese writers including Mishima Yukio, Tayama Katai and Kikuchi Kan.
The Sargent Collection was purchased in 1978 from Margaret J. Sargent, the wife of Sargent.
The collection comprises 1066 Japanese books, nearly all published in the twentieth century. They mostly relate to Japanese literature and include a large number of novels and also poetry, plays, essays, biographies of writers, literary history and critical works. They cover all phases of Japanese literature from the Nara period (710–794) to modern times. There is particular strength in the early Edo period, with many works by Matsuo Basho (1644–1694) and Ihara Saikaku (1642–1693). Modern writers represented in the collection include Tanizaki Jun’ichiro, Mori Ogai, Akutagawa Ryunosuke, Tokuda Shusei, Natsume Soseki, Shimazaki Toson and Mishima Yukio. There are also Japanese translations of European writers such as Anton Chekhov, T.S. Eliot, Hendrik Ibsen and William Shakespeare.
The collection also contains dictionaries, encyclopaedias, and books on Japanese history, language, art, music, architecture, philosophy, politics, socialism, trade unions, international relations, trade, ethnology, Buddhism, Christian missions, and guides and maps to Kobe, Kyoto and other cities.
The books in the Sargent Collection have been integrated in the Japanese Collection within the Asian Collections. They have been catalogued individually. A bound volume containing the order slips is available in the Asian Studies Reading Room.
In Memoriam G.W. Sargent, Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia, vol. 12, 1977, pp. 3–4.