Harold James Oliver was appointed foundation Professor of English at the University of New South Wales when its Arts Faculty opened in 1960. Oliver was also a fellow of the Australian Humanities Academy. He was educated at Sydney Boys High School, the University of Sydney and University College, London, and was employed as an academic at the University of Sydney from 1936 until 1959. Oliver specialised in 17th century literature and 20th century English literature, including Australian and American works. His two most important books are considered to be The problem of John Ford (1955) and Sir Robert Howard, 1626-1698: A Critical Biography (1963). A world authority on the works of William Shakespeare, Oliver retired as Professor of English at the University of New South Wales in 1982.