An eponymous lecture at the Australian and New Zealand Association of Neurologists Annual Scientific Meeting commemorates E. Graeme Robertson (1903-75), and some neurologists will know that particular Australian practices in clinical neurology, so far as they exist, have origins in his career. This is a historical article on the literary record of a man who had his own sense of history - an affinity with the past as well as an awareness of future generations of readers. He wrote authoritative texts on pneumoencephalography before new technology made it obsolete, and he produced a series of books on decorative architectural cast iron in Australian cities. A talent for visual interpretation seems to have drawn him to both of these topics; a common theme is contrast between light and dark, which is expatiated in images and in clear, well-written prose in his publications. We review his medical writings, including some largely forgotten principles of cerebrospinal fluid physics that he discovered when researching pneumoencephalography. We also explore his obsession with cast iron - its architectural historical significance, his techniques for photographing it, and some of the ways that it related to his life s work as a clinical neurologist.