I was born in a small country town in Western Australia, where my father was a bank officer. As a child I lived in several towns around the State attending government schools until leaving for boarding school in the late 1930s. At 15 I started working in a bank in Perth. I soon recognized this was not what I wanted to do with my life, and under the trying wartime circumstances of 1941 and 1942 I completed the University matriculation requirements by attending night-school.
After earning a bachelor degree in Physics, I was awarded a scholarship which allowed me to attend Cambridge University, where I read the Physics Tripos. From 1949 to 1956, I worked, mostly on solar physics, under Ron Giovanelli at the CSIRO Division of Physics. From 1956 to 1959 I was on leave in the US, where I worked successively at Harvard, Sacramento Peak, and in Boulder at the High Altitude Observatory. After returning for a year to Sydney, I accepted a position at the (then) National Bureau of Standards in Boulder and subsequently as a Fellow of the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics when it was founded in 1962.
I left Boulder for Hawaii in 1964, remaining there until 1983 when I was offered the position of founding director of the National Optical Astronomy Observatories. That post I resigned in 1987 to return to research in solar physics – working on spectral-line formation in magnetized gases, the analysis of solar infrared data, and participating in the development of a theory of radiative transfer in stochastic media.
I finally retired from science in 1997, and since then have worked on a daily basis painting in oils, watercolor, and pastels. I have had several one- and two-person shows and continue to exhibit my work in local venues. I have been married since 1949 to Charmian (nee Candy) – we have three children and six grandchildren.