Thursday, April 20, 2006

Research in Australia


Writing a biography is a grand way of getting around the globe. In quest of my subject J.S.Haldane I was in Richmond yesterday, meeting his grandson Professor Denny Mitchison - who is an endearing image of his grandfather. Next week I head up to the family seat in Scotland, in countryside near Perth. In May I head to Vancouver for a week, where the main Haldane archive is held. A trip around Flanders and up Pikes Peak in Colorado are to follow soon. I started off with a journey out to Welsh colliery towns and down Big Pit.
Meanwhile I have been wondering about a cache of letters Haldane wrote to his friend J. Wilson out in Australia. The originals are in Sydney, and unphotocopiable. The leters seemed necessary - but what an expensive trip in twerms of time and money to reach them. However through the web I found that they reached Sydney from the Basser Library in Canberra, who retained photocopies - which could surely be photocopied.
Then in The London Review of Books I found a neat little classified advert for Ian Warden out in Canberra, offering to 'fossick' about in Australian archives on behalf of those of us not lucky enough to be there ourselves.
Ian (pictured) duly fossicked - with great patience and aplomb. A handsome package of fabulous correspondence arrived in the mail yesterday - all wonderfully vital. A great service from Ian - splendid communication throughout and utterly reasonable costs. If you need a keen eye and nimble fingers in Australia, I thoroughly recommend him - iwarden@netspeed.com.au.

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