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The Father of Australian Geology

August 2004, no. 263

The Web of Science: The Scientific Correspondence of the Rev. W.B. Clarke, Australia’s Pioneer Geologist (2 Volumes) edited by Ann Moyal

Australian Scholarly Publishing, 1340 pp, $200 pb

The Father of Australian Geology

August 2004, no. 263

The leading early geologist in Australia was Reverend William Branwhite Clarke (1798–1878). His father was a blind schoolmaster in a Suffolk village, and the family was not well off. Still, they managed to send William to Jesus College, Cambridge, where he studied to enter the church. During his time as a student, he came under the influence of the redoubtable professor of geology Adam Sedgwick and took up geology seriously. Nevertheless, he became a clergyman and held a series of minor ecclesiastical positions, besides teaching at his father’s old school for a period. He also undertook geological studies, was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society and published a number of (fairly minor) papers in Britain.

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