Thursday, 14 April 2016

The Australian Dictionary of Biography #2

The previous post looked at a few examples of Lithuanian-born individuals who are listed in The Australian Dictionary of Biography.  Here are are a few others with Lithuanian connections.

Victor Martin TRIKOJUS (1902-1985) was the son of Martin August Trikojus and Charlotte Josephine, nee Thompson. shows that Martin - also known as Augustus - had been born in Tilsit (Tilžė in Lithuanian), East Prussia, in 1856 and arrived in Sydney in 1881 where he worked as a hairdresser until his death in 1911. The article on his son Victor by L. R. Humphreys in The Australian Dictionary of Biography tells us that Victor was born in Darlinghurst, Sydney, studied in Sydney, Oxford and Munich, and went on to become a distinguished Australian scientist: professor of biochemistry at the University of Melbourne from 1943; foundation member and chairman of the Australian Biochemical Society; fellow and vice-president of the Australian Academy of Science; and foundation member of the Australian Research Grants Committee.

Charles Adam Marie WROBLEWSKI (1855-1936) was born at Grodno (Gardinas in Lithuanian) into a Lithuanian-Polish noble family.  The article on him in The Dictionary of Biography by Bogumila Zongollowicz advises that before arriving in Australia around 1885 Charles had studied chemistry and lived in France and Austria. He initially worked as a chemist and geologist in New South Wales but later went into business for himself.  In 1892 Charles launched a French-language newspaper Le Courrier Australien in Sydney and also, in 1893, the Deutsche-Australische Post for German-speakers.

  • Le Courrier Australien earned the distinction of being the longest-running foreign language publication in Australia, being in print for over 120 years; unfortunately, publication appears to have recently ceased.  
  • I was interested in the conjunction between this story and one I published last year on John Wedrien (Vedrinaitis) who had inserted this advertisement in Le Courrier Australien in the 1930s:

Julius Sumner MILLER (1909-1987) was born and died in the USA, but has been included in the Dictionary by virtue of his contribution to science education in Australia.  The article on Professor Julius Sumner Miller in The Dictionary of Australian Biography by Rod Cross tells us that his father (Samuel Miller) had come to the USA from Latvia and his mother (Sarah, nee Newmark) from Lithuania. Trained as a physicist, Julius was attracted to the idea of presenting science through the new medium of television. Between 1962 and 1986 he visited Australia 27 times, primarily for engagements at the University of Sydney but also to record the ABC television show 'Why is it so?' which became very popular largely because of the presenter's infectious enthusiasm and use of drama.  

  • I remember my mother telling me that she had met Julius Sumner Miller while she was working at the Grosvenor Hotel in Adelaide and he was a house guest there (that was around the mid 1960s) and that they had spoken about his Lithuanian heritage. 


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