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The Australian Encyclopaedia is an encyclopaedia focused on Australia. In addition to biographies of notable Australians the coverage includes the geology, flora, fauna as well as the history of the continent. It was first published by Angus and Robertson in two volumes, one each in 1925 and 1926. The most recent edition, the sixth, is of eight volumes published in 1996.
The encyclopaedia was initiated in 1912 as a historical and biographical record under the directorship of Charles H. Bertie, municipal librarian of Sydney. The outbreak of World War I in 1914 temporarily halted its progress.
In 1917, work resumed and it was decided that the book should also include scientific subjects. Herbert J. Carter, later to be president of the Linnean Society of New South Wales (1925–26) recruited other Australian scientists to work on the encyclopedia. Their contributions were, in many instances, the first summaries of scientific knowledge published in a general reference work in Australia. In 1920 Captain Arthur Jose was released from the Australian Navy and became the general editor. He found that, since significant time had elapsed since the project started and newer sources of information were available, it had become necessary to re-write much of the historical and biographical information.
Alec Chisholm was editor-in-chief of the second edition, published in 1958. It received glowing reviews from newspapers around the nation.
Richard Appleton became editor-in-chief in 1977 and oversaw the fourth and fifth editions.
- 1st Edition, 1925–26, two volumes
- 2nd Edition, 1958, ten volumes (several reprintings)
- 3rd Edition, 1977, six volumes
- 4th Edition, 1983, twelve volumes
- 5th Edition, 1988, nine volumes
- 6th Edition, 1996, eight volumes
- Australian Encyclopaedia Volume I (A-Lys), p v-vi, Angus and Robertson Limited, 1925.
- Australian Encyclopaedia Volume II (Mab-Z), Angus and Robertson Limited, 1926.
- The Australian Encyclopaedia. 2nd Edition, [East Lansing] Michigan State University Press [c1958]. Available online at HathiTrust
For a critical review of the first edition:
- Hagen, Nadine (July 2007). "A Mind-Map of a Nation: The Australian Encyclopaedia" (PDF). Allgemeinwissen und Gesellschaft. www.enzyklopaedie.ch: 247–256. Retrieved 2008-08-24.
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