[ASC-media] Book Launch: The Rev WB Clarke's writings

jtyler at scibizmedia.com.au jtyler at scibizmedia.com.au
Mon Apr 5 16:35:00 EST 2004

Geological Society of Australia

Media Release

Date	5 April 2004

Dr Ann Moyal, leading historian of Australian science and technology, 
will tomorrow launch 'The Web of Science: the scientific correspondence 
of Rev. WB Clarke' - a fascinating account of one of Australia's 
pioneering science communicators to be launched by a contemporary 
science communicator of great emminence.

Clarke is considered Australia’s pioneer geologist science communicator 
and Australia’s first-ever scientific medal was struck in his honour. 
He was recognised during Bicentennial celebrations as one of 200 people 
contributing to the development of Australia.

The launch will be made by distinguished historian Don Baker, and will 
include a presentation by Dr Ann Moyal (AM) on Clarke’s contributions 
to Australian science and its communication.

Dr Moyal was made an AM in the Order of Australia for her contribution 
to Australian science, particularly the writing of history in 1993, and 
was awarded a Doctorate of Letters from the Australian National 
University in 2002 for her work in founding the discipline of the 
history of Australian science.

According to Dr Moyal, Clarke was the “pioneer of science communication 
in Australia”, contributing editorials, features articles and 
innumerable letters to the Sydney Morning Herald and other newspapers 
from 1840-78.

The two-volume book has been published by Australian Scholarly 
Publishing with assistance from the Geological Society of Australia, 
the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts and Newmont.

Date:		Tuesday 6 April

Where:	State Library of New South Wales
		Dixon Room
		Mitchell Room

Time:		6pm

Pics and interviews available.

Media Enquiries:
Jess Tyler, GSA Publicity
SciBiz Media Group			Tel: 0408 298 292

Launch Enquiries:
Friends of the Library		Tel: 02 9273 1770



•	The Web of Science: The Scientific Correspondence of the Rev. W. B. 
Clarke, Australia’s Pioneer Geologist opens up a fascinating window on 
the development of science in colonial Australia. Clarke (1798–1878), 
an Anglican clergyman who arrived in Sydney in 1839, was the first 
trained geologist to settle in Australia.
•	Throughout his career, in his time free from parish duties, he made 
fundamental contributions to geological knowledge and was a vital 
contributor to the opening of mineral and metallurgical resources. He 
pinpointed, for example, a wide range of places where coal, gold and 
other metals would be found in New South Wales, Victoria and elsewhere 
in Australia.
•	Clarke sat at the centre of a web of science, corresponding with 
geologists, palaeontologists, botanists, meteorologists, astronomers, 
zoologists, physical scientists and land and maritime explorers in 
Australia – among them Frederick McCoy, Richard Daintree, Alexander 
Thomson, Ferdinand von Mueller, Phillip Parker King, John Tebbutt, 
Henry Russell, William Sharp Macleay and Ludwig Leichhardt.
•	He also corresponded with leading scientific figures abroad – 
including Adam Sedgwick, Roderick Murchison, Charles Darwin and Richard 
Owen in Britain, James Dwight Dana in the USA, Laurent de Koninck in 
Belgium, and key geologists and palaeontologists in New Zealand and 
•	The 895 letters are drawn from Clarke’s Papers in the Mitchell 
Library, Sydney, and from collections overseas. They explore themes 
including the pioneering geological experience and enterprise in the 
colonies, the life of the independent scientist in nineteenth-century 
Australia, the relationship between science at the colonial periphery 
and metropolitan science in Europe, the scientific community and its 
networks, and the growing professionalisation of colonial science 
through the geological surveys, museums, observatories, universities 
and societies of science.
•	As a noted writer on scientific matters for the Sydney press who 
provided valuable leads to prospectors in search of gold and other 
metals, Clarke became a household name and one of the foremost 
scientific savants in nineteenth-century Australia. The Clarke Medal of 
the Royal Society of New South Wales, struck in his honour at his 
death, was the first scientific medal issued in Australia.

Biographical Note Dr Ann Moyal, AM

•	Dr Ann Moyal is a leading historian of Australian science, 
telecommunication and technology. She is the author of many books and 
papers in these fields including A Bright and Savage Land, Scientists 
in Colonial Australia: clear across Australia, A History of 
Telecommunications, and her most recent and popular Platypus and The 
Extraordinary Story of How a Curious Creature Baffled the World. Her 
autobiography Breakfast with Beaverbook was published in 1995.
•	Ann was made an AM in the Order of Australia for her contribution to 
Australian science, particularly the writing of history in 1993, and 
was awarded a Doctorate of Letters from the Australian National 
University in 2002 for her work in founding the discipline of the 
history of Australian science.
•	She has held research and teaching posts in many Australian 
universities; is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities, and 
received the Centenary Medal for her contribution to society and the 
humanities through the   study of Australian Science.
•	Ann Moral founded the Independent Scholars Association of Australia 
in 1995 and was its first President from 1995-2000. Ashe Accordingly 
has a strong feeling for that highly independent nineteenth century 
‘independent scholar’, W.B. Clarke.
•	Ann has had a strong professional interest in Science and Technology 
Policy in Australia as well as science and technology history, (and was 
the Director of the Science Policy Research Centre at Griffith 
University, 1976-1978) and in Science Communication, she was Honorary 
Editor of the ANZAAS Journal Search during the 1980’s.

Jess Tyler
Tel/Fax 03 6231 6648
Mobile 0408 298 292
email jtyler at scibizmedia.com.au

GPO Box 622
Hobart Tas 7001
Level 2-24 Davey Street Hobart

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