James Backhouse Walker


James Backhouse Walker (left)in the bush with a friend, 1880s (ALMFA, SLT)

James Backhouse Walker FRGS (184199), historian, the son of George Washington Walker, was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of Tasmania in 1876. His social commitment was notable: as secretary of the Hobart Working Men's Club, he sought improved conditions for workers; as trustee of the Tasmanian Public Library, he did much to establish its collection; he gave evidence to the Royal Commission on Education in 1883, and in 1889 proposed the formation of a university. He sat on the council of the University of Tasmania from 1890 and was its second vice-chancellor. He was a regular contributor to the Royal Society of Tasmania, and many of his papers on the discovery, early settlement and Aboriginal inhabitants of Tasmania were published in 1902, becoming a standard authority.

Further reading: ADB 6; P Walker, All that we inherit, Hobart, 1968; J Walker, Early Tasmania, Hobart, 1902; P Bolger, Hobart Town, Canberra, 1973.

Robin Barker