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Biographical entry Blackall, William Edward (1876 - 1941)

8 July 1876
Folkestone, Kent, England
7 October 1941
Western Australia, Australia
Botanist and Physician


William Blackall came to Australia in 1904 to take a post of medical officer at the Fremantle Asylum. He later moved to private practice in Cottesloe. His lifetime interest in botany led to his becoming an expert in Western Australian flora.


Born Folkestone, Kent, England, 8 July 1876. Died Cottesloe (?), 7 October 1941. Educated Oxford (BA 1900, MA 1904, BM, BCh 1904). Medical officer, Fremantle Asylum 1904-10; general practice, Cottesloe from 1910; surgeon to the orthopaedic ward, Lady Lawley Cottage by the Sea; consultant to the Mosman Park school for deaf children; volunteer gunner, Australian Field Artillery 1914-16; honorary captain, Australian Imperial Force 1916-17; 1st Australian Field General Hospital and 1st Australian Field Ambulance 1917-18; assistant director of hygiene for base headquarters, 5th Military District, Australian Army Medical Corps reserve 1919-36; spent some time at Kew Herbarium 1935. Worked on a key to the flora of Western Australia 1930s until his death (completed by B.J. Grieve and published in four parts as "How to Know Western Australian Wildflowers. A Key to the Flora of the Temperate Regions", 1954-75). The Blackall Prize in the University of Western Australia is awarded annually to the most promising student of botany. Two plant genera were named after him.

Archival resources

Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science

  • Australian Botanists - Biographies, MS 064; Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science. Details

State Records Office of Western Australia

  • William Edward Blackall - Records, 1904 - 1941; State Records Office of Western Australia. Details

Western Australia Herbarium

  • William Edward Blackall - Records, 1931 - 1940, 58(047) Bla; Western Australia Herbarium. Details

Published resources


  • Hall, Norman, Botanists of Australian Acacias: Short Biographies of People Who Have Named Australian Species, Whose Names Have Been Given to Species or Who Have Collected Type Material, But Excluding Any Who Are Included in 'Botanists of the Eucalypts' (Melbourne: CSIRO, 1984), 64 pp. Details

Book Sections

Conference Proceedings

  • History of Systematic Botany in Australasia: Proceedings of a symposium held at the University of Melbourne, 25-27 May 1988 edited by Short, Philip S. (South Yarra, Vic.: Australian Systematic Botany Society Inc., 1990), 326 pp. Details

Edited Books

  • Flora of Australia, vol. 1 of 44 (Canberra: Australian Biological Resources Study, 1999). Details


McCarthy, G.J.