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Biographical entry Barrett, Charles Leslie (1879 - 1959)

26 June 1879
Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia
16 January 1959
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Naturalist and Ornithologist


Charles Barrett was a naturalist writer with The Herald, Melbourne for 33 years and author of several books on flora and fauna of Australia.


Born Hawthorn, Victoria, 26 June 1879. Died Melbourne, 16 January 1959. Natural history, writer, Melbourne Herald 1906-39; Australian Imperial Force 1916-18. Australian Natural History Medallion 1953. Foundation member, Royal Australasian Ornithologists' Union 1901, editor of its publication Emu 1910-16; prominent in the formation of the Bird Observers' Club 1905. Editor, Victorian Naturalist 1925-40. Collected insects throughout much of Australia, sending many to entomologists in other parts of the world. Visited troops in northern Australia and New Guinea during World War II, lecturing on practical bush lore. Wrote popular books such as Coast of Adventure, In Australian Wilds (1919), Pals (a boys' paper, 1920-28), the dozen Sun Nature Books (cheap, but attractive, introductory books) and edited and contributed to the Australian Children's Encyclopaedia.

Married Florence Ellen ("Effie") nee Williams, a trained nurse, on 12 June 1911. Florence accompanied Charles on his travels to the Great Barrier Reef, the Nullarbor Plain and across central and northern Australia as 'assistant naturalist'. She was also actively involved in the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria, organising the Ladies' Committee that assisted with the wildflower shows. She died in October 1957.


Award - Australian Natural History Medallion, Field Naturalist Club of Victoria

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Published resources

Book Sections

  • Chisholm, A. H., 'Barrett, Charles Leslie (1879-1959), naturalist and journalist', in Bede Nairn and Geoffrey Serle (eds), Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 7, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1979, p. 185. Also available at Details

Online Resources

See also

  • Robin, Libby, The Flight of the Emu: a Hundred Years of Australian Ornithology 1901-2001, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 2001, 492 pp. Details

McCarthy, G.J. & Rosanne Walker