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Thursday 17 October 2019
5.30 to 7pm
Hetzel Lecture Theatre, Institute Building (Ground floor)
Free, bookings essential

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About the presenter

Ian Hancock, a graduate of Melbourne and Oxford universities and former head of history at ANU, has written acclaimed biographies of former Prime Minister John Gorton and NSW Premier Nick Greiner. His expertise in Australian history and politics and British imperial history fits him ideally for the role of Symon’s biographer

Join Ian Hanock, a graduate of Melbourne and Oxford universities and former head of history at ANU, as he discusses the life and times of Sir Josiah Symon.

Josiah Symon (1846-1934), the immigrant son of a Scottish cabinet maker, became the acknowledged leader of the Adelaide bar, the owner of a successful vineyard, a combative figure in State and Federal politics – serving briefly as a minister in both spheres – and an influential supporter of Federation, playing a significant role in establishing the High Court as the ‘keystone of the Federal arch’.   After Federation, and depending on the circumstances, he was either the pre-eminent defender of the smaller States or the guardian of the ‘federal spirit’.   He was both an Australian nationalist and an Empire man, a proud Scot who embraced Shakespeare and England, and a free trader who admired 19th century English liberals while moving closer to an idiosyncratic form of conservatism.  His besetting sin was probably vanity, but he had much to be vain about. Symon was a generous benefactor of numerous causes. A noted bibliophile and literary scholar, he presented his personal library of some 8,000 non-legal volumes to the State Library of South Australia and donated £10,000 to the University of Adelaide for the establishment of a separate Women’s Union.

Sir Josiah Symon’s Library is located on the top floor of the Mortlock Library and is open to the public each weekday between 12 to 2pm.

To support the lecture and your curiosity the Symon library will be open from 4 to 4.50pm on the day of the lecture.


How do I get to the State Library by public transport?

The 'State Library, Art Gallery, Museum' tram-stop is just outside the State Library. There are bus stops close by near the War Memorial on North Terrace. The closest train station is the Adelaide city station on North Terrace.

You can plan your journey via Adelaide Metro.

Is there car parking near the State Library?

The nearest car park is Wilson's Adelaide Central car park, 225 North Terrace, next to David Jones.

There is paid metered street parking along Kintore Ave and Victoria Drive.

Where is the wheelchair and stroller access?

Access to the Spence Wing first floor and the Mortlock Wing is via the lift in the glass foyer entrance of the library.

Access to the Institute Building is via the external ramp on the Kintore Ave entrance or via the internal ramp between the Institute Building and the Spence Wing (opposite the Treasures Wall).

There is on-street disabled parking available in the nearby roads. View more information and maps of Adelaide City Council's Disability parking for permit holders.

How do I check if the Mortlock Chamber is open when I plan to visit?

The Mortlock Wing and Treasures Wall are venues for hire and subject to occasional closures due to functions and special events, please check our Open Hours for any venue closures on the day of your tour to avoid disappointment.

Is there a cafe at the State Library?

Our café is temporarily closed...But something exciting is on its way!! Please excuse our mess and noise while we refurbish the café to make your experience better. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. Follow our socials for updates: