Australian Encyclopaedia

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.[1]

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[2]

The 3rd and 4th editions were published by the Grolier Society of Australia. The 5th and 6th editions were published by Australian Geographic.


  1. McGregor, Russell (Winter 2017). "Encyclopaedia for a Nation" (PDF). SL Magazine. 10 (2): 16–19.
  2. Catalogue item details Archived July 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine at Town of Cambridge library, Western Australia
  • 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.

For a critical review of the first edition:

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