Walter Binks was a vocational advisor, self-help expert, author and motivational speaker based in Melbourne, Victoria, who normally described himself as the 'chief lecturer' of the Universal Opportunity League. Binks gave lectures throughout Australia in the 1930s and 1940s, published self-help and popular psychology pamphlets, delivered courses in self-help and popular psychology and gave vocational advice to individuals.
Binks was born in Moonee Ponds, Victoria in 1892, the son of an accountant. He studied to be a Methodist minister during World War I, and later claimed to have won a prize while a student at Queen's College, University of Melbourne. He does not seem to have subsequently pursued this career or become an ordained minister.
By 1923 Binks was practicing as an industrial psychologist, with an office in ANZAC House, 151 Collins Street, Melbourne, where he seems to have administered vocational and aptitude tests and placed suitable applicants in Melbourne businesses. Binks retained his office at ANZAC House until 1930, when he moved to the Victoria Buildings at 80 Swanston Street, where he had his office until he retired in 1958.
In 1931 Binks undertook a series of lectures around Australia, possibly brought about because his existing vocational guidance and placement service was no longer financially viable as the Depression took hold. He gave lectures in Adelaide, Perth, Launceston and Hobart, initially billed as lectures in 'Humanology' but also as lectures by the Australasian Opportunity League. The lectures were free, but Binks used them to promote his individual consultations, for which he charged people for making a character assessment and making recommendations on a suitable profession or career.
He made other lecture tours through Australia in the late 1930s and 1940s, including to Brisbane, Sydney and New Zealand. By this time he was calling himself Walter Shakespeare Binks, and describing himself as the chief lecturer of the Universal Opportunity League. By 1940 he was styling himself 'W. Shakespeare Binks, Ps.D'.
Binks's lectures and publications promoted a range of diverse ideas drawn from physiology, psychology and more popular self-help literature. He stressed the relationship between human physiognomy and personality types, believing that personality could be read from body shape, hand shape and facial types; they could therefore suggest an appropriate career or vocation, if properly read and interpreted by a vocational consultant. The other strand to Binks's lectures was a strong emphasis on positive attitudes and self-help, youthful thinking and good diet.
In addition to his lectures and consultancies, Binks published several pamphlets and booklets, including: When War Ceases (1916); The Right Vocation (circa 1925); How to Change Your Life (1930s); The Golden Key, or the New Science of Analyzing Character (1930s); Wake Up and Live! (1940); Changing Your Life (1940); The Binks Book: Essays for Everyday Living (1940s).
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, New Zealand, Perth, Western Australia, Australia, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia