Fred Hollows among new entries to The Australian Dictionary of Biography

10 April 2017

Fred Hollows really stood out. He's just one of these larger than life characters who achieved an enormous amount in a relatively short life.

Celebrated eye surgeon Professor Fred Hollows and disgraced former NSW Chief Magistrate Murray Farquhar are among the ninety-five new official entries added to The Australian Dictionary of Biography (ABD).

The Dictionary, based out of The Australian National University (ANU), has also included entries for activist, poet, and educator Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker), former governor-general, politician and historian Sir Paul Hasluck, and Australia's first female soldier to die on overseas duty, Susan Felsche.

The Australian Dictionary of Biography is Australia's foremost record of prominent and colourful Australians.

ABD Deputy General Editor Dr Malcolm Allbrook said the latest additions were of Australians who died in 1993. He described them as a 'stellar bunch this year'.

"Fred Hollows really stood out. He's just one of these larger than life characters who achieved an enormous amount in a relatively short life," Dr Allbrook said.

"His legacy lives on, not only in Australia but overseas. He made a huge contribution in places like Vietnam, essentially bringing sight to the blind".

Professor Hollows established the National Trachoma and Eye Health program in 1975 before winning Australian of the Year in 1990 and setting up the Fred Hollows Foundation in 1992 to ensure his work would continue after his death.

Dr Allbrook also said former NSW Chief Magistrate Murray Farquhar was an interesting new addition.

Farquhar was Chief Stipendiary Magistrate of New South Wales between 1971 and 1977 before being jailed for four years in 1985 after a District Court jury found him guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

"He rose to great heights and fell to great depths. He's listed as 'Judge and criminal' which I thought had a wonderful ring to it," he said.

Other notable additions were Dame Alexandra Hasluck, who made her career as an author and historian and Albert Jennings, one of Australia's largest home builders in the 1960s to the 1980s, who gave many Australians of that era the chance to own their own homes.

Dr Allbrook said the Dictionary was established in 1957 and published its first volumes in 1966. Since going online in 2006 its popularity had greatly increased.

"We had 70 million web hits last year. It's popular amongst students, schools, researchers and members of the public who are curious to find out about the lives of significant Australians," Dr Allbrook said.

"The Dictionary has been called the greatest cooperative social science project in Australia; fifty years old and going strong, with volumes 19 and 20 currently in preparation.

"Our youngest entry is Azaria Chamberlin who was only a baby when she died.

"This year we added two more biographies of children, Troy Lovegrove and Eve van Grafhorst, both of whom contracted in-utero HIV/AIDS but still had remarkable lives.

"The oldest ADB entry is Samuel Cox, who claimed to be 117 when he died in 1891".

The dictionary is a free resource available online and includes almost 13,000 biographies of prominent and representative Australians.

Members of the community can suggest new entries through the Dictionary's website - http://adb.anu.edu.au.