William Legrand: A Study

Holloway, Joan (2010). William Legrand: A Study PhD Thesis, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, The University of Queensland.

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Author Holloway, Joan
Thesis Title William Legrand: A Study
School, Centre or Institute School of English, Media Studies and Art History
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-11-01
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Open Access Status Other
Supervisor -
Total pages 389
Total colour pages 11
Total black and white pages 378
Subjects 20 Language, Communication and Culture
Formatted abstract
 This thesis is a scholarly biography of the nineteenth-century Hobart bookseller, William Legrand (ca.1818 –1902). Currently an iconic figure, once a well-known amateur scientist, antiquarian, and local ―character,‖ Legrand produced the first book on Tasmanian land shells and secured scarce colonial materials for important collections of Australiana. This study argues that Legrand‘s past and continuing Tasmanian presence has greater significance than currently recognised. My archival research substantially increases existing knowledge about him. Applying theoretical knowledge in detailed analysis of existing and fresh material, I probe the cultural significance of Legrand‘s previously untraced links with historical figures, places, events, and intellectual movements. His many-faceted career offers valuable insights to developments in early Australian science and notions of national identity.

The Introduction considers relevant theoretical concepts about biography, foregrounding issues influencing this biography‘s eventual hybrid form. The diversity of objects significantly associated with Legrand has called for the adoption of theoretical viewpoints other than those of biography in several sections. Chapter 1 explores the Legrand photographic portraits, several recently unearthed. I argue that three in particular are central to understanding Legrand‘s enduring cultural presence. By exploring all nine, I provide a useful overview of Legrand‘s Hobart career. Chapter 2 examines controversies and speculations about Legrand‘s pre-colonial life, investigating views by Legrand‘s contemporaries, alternative hypotheses, official records, and historical evidence. Its detailed exposition of a still-open line of enquiry and analysis of present findings provides a firm basis for further research into what may remain the mystery of Legrand‘s origins. Chapter 3, examining Legrand‘s colonial existence from 1855 to 1868, solves the mystery of his immigration and explores his attempts to forge a new life and gentlemanly career. I examine his links to developments in science and technology within the newly self-governing colonies, and explore wider implications of the previously unknown fact that Legrand briefly worked in Queensland. Chapter 4 examines Legrand‘s newspaper account of his 1869 visit to Recherche Bay. Long valued as rare primary source material about this significant remote settlement, the article gained increased relevance during recent campaigning to preserve heritage sites there. The chapter analyses Legrand‘s text in historical, literary, and biographical terms. Chapter 5 examines Legrand‘s later Hobart years, from 1869 until his death in 1902, approaching his complex career in terms of nineteenth-century models of self-improvement and the influences of imperialism and notions of ―rational amusement‖ on colonial science. The chapter analyses Legrand‘s chief conchological and antiquarian achievements in terms of their cultural and regional significance. It examines his intellectual, political, business, and social links. Chapter 6 moves from contemporary reports of Legrand‘s decline and death to the afterlives of things closely associated with his life, including possessions, reputation, photographs, anecdotes, letters, and a range of later tributes. The chapter then turns to recent evidence of Legrand‘s cultural afterlife: his incidental relevance to literary research on Marcus Clarke, his major importance for a literary work by Christopher Koch, and the ongoing popularity of one particular photograph of Legrand. The Conclusion reflects on Legrand‘s enduring cultural significance.
Keyword Legrand
Old photographs
Recherche bay

Document type: Thesis
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Created: Wed, 23 Mar 2011, 00:08:11 EST by Ms Joan Holloway on behalf of Library - Information Access Service