1922 book by A.H. Chisholm

To: Peter Woodall <>
Subject: 1922 book by A.H. Chisholm
From: Syd Curtis <>
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2004 23:05:25 +1000

A few more items, pretty much grabbed at random, about Alec Chisholm.      

I guess you have plenty of photos, should your Queensland Naturalist short biographies run to photos.   A favourite of mine shows him reclining at ease on the lawn at O'Reilly's (Lamington NP) with a Crimson Rosella feeding from his hand.  Also in the photo, is Heinz Sielmann, a German naturalist, author of the book "My Year with the Woodpeckers" about  the making of his remarkable Woodpecker film.  (The book was first published in Germany in 1958; in English translation in 1959, publishers Barrie & Rockliff, London.)

Alec Chisholm was Editor in Chief for the Angus & Robertson ten-volume Australian Encyclopaedia published in 1958.  He also contributed many of the natural history entries in it.  In the list of contributors, he's shown as

Alexander Hugh Chisholm, C.M.Z.S., C.F.A.O.U., journalist and naturalist; Author of Strange New World, etc.;  Editor in Chief, The Australian Encyclopaedia.

The publisher's blurb on the dust jacket of The Romance of the Lyrebird (Angus & Robertson, 1960) reads:

Alec Chisholm has had a distinguished career in journalism and book publishing; his name is also a noted one in the field of natural history, and his interest in historical writing and research is recognised in his election to the position of President of the Royal Australian Historical Society.  Editor-in-Chief of the ten-volume edition of The  Australian Encyclopaedia, Mr Chisholm was awarded, in the 1958 Queen's Birthday Honours, the O.B.E. "in recognition of his contribution to Australian literature and natural history".

As a journalist he has been editor of the Melbourne Argus, editor of Who's Who in Australia, and honorary editor of various journals of natural history.  In 1940 he was awarded the Australian Natural History Medallion.  He holds other honours from scientific societies and was formerly President of the Royal Australasian Ornithologists' Union, the Naturalists Club of Queensland, and Field Naturalists Club of Victoria.  He has published Bird Wonders of Australia and other bird books.  His Strange New World, which dealt with naturalist John Gilbert and Ludwig Leichhardt, she new light on the history of Australian exploration; and in The Making of the Sentimental Bloke he presented the remarkable career of C. J. Dennis.

Chisholm was on the staff of The Sun in Sydney before going to Melbourne in 1933 to take over the  Nature Columns that previously had been in charge of Donald Macdonald who had died.   However his journalistic career started in Brisbane - on The Courier, I think, in the days before it and the Daily Mail amalgamated to form The Courier-Mail.

The Oxford University Press put out a series of booklets about "Great Australians".  Chisholm wrote the one about Ferdinand von Mueller (in 1962).

Chisholm was active up to the time of his death in the late '70s.  He was then living in Cremorne in Sydney.

Syd Curtis

From: Peter Woodall <>
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2004 13:32:48 +1000
Subject: Re: [BIRDING-AUS] 1922 book

Hi all

I can add a little more incidental information to this story.

The Queensland Naturalists Club will be celebrating its centenary
in 2006.  Amongst other celebrations we hope to publish, as an issue of the
Queensland Naturalist, a collection of short biographies of prominent
Queensland naturalists, including Alec Chisholm.

I notice (but have yet to read) that Chisholm had his Presidential
Address to the QNC published in the 1922 volume of the Queensland
, entitled "Bird seeking in Queensland; The ornithological history
of Queensland, 1770-1922".

The Queensland Naturalist started publication in 1908 and has a wealth of
historical information on birds, etc.  For example, I have recently referred
to a paper by Noel Jack in the 1938 issue of The Queensland Naturalist in
which he wrote:
 ?Much patient stalking has been necessary to certify that the Australian Raven
is present at Mt Coot-tha.  Possibly the Crow is also there, but the identification
of these two birds is always a problem in the field, and is not rendered any
easier by their excessive wariness?.  

How times have changed!!

Peter Woodall
(current Editor of The Queensland Naturalist)

At 12:26 PM 16/09/2004 +1000, you wrote:
Hi Gary
I also have a copy of Mateship with birds. It belonged to my grandfather, who acquired it in 1934. The bird photos are really wonderful, but I particularly like the plate opposite the title page. It shows the author on a ladder that is in a cart with a horse in the shafts and a gigantic tripod with a large camera on top set up over the whole contraption. What enormous trouble Alec Chisholm went to to take his photos.
The style of writing is very much of a bygone era and as you say, very readable.
I tried a Google search for Alec H Chisholm and there are many websites that include his name. Some of them are just lists of books, so it might take a bit of wading through to find more about the author.

Gary Blond wrote:
" It is a good thing that Australians, during recent years, have taken a vastly increased interest both in the flora and in the birds of their native land. So far as the birds are concerned, this book will do much to stimulate that interest. Here is a human story, and an entertaining story, written by one who has an accurate knowledge of his subject.

Chisholm is credited in the book as being " Past President Queensland Gould League of Birdlovers, Past President Queensland Naturalists Club, State Hon. Secretary Royal Australasian Ornithologists' Union, Co-Editor Queensland Naturalist, etc."

Gary Blond :>)

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