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Adam-Smith, Patricia Jean (Patsy) (1924 - 2001)


31 May 1924
Victoria, Australia
20 Sept 2001
Author, Historian and Servicewoman
Alternative Names
  • Beckett, Patricia Jean
  • Smith, Patricia Jean (maiden name)


Patsy Adam-Smith introduced many readers to Australian history. Of her many publications three in particular stand out: The Anzacs (1978), Australian Women at War (1984) and Prisoners of War (1992).

On Australia Day 1994 Patricia Adam-Smith was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for service to community history, particularly through the preservation of national traditions and folklore and the recording of oral histories. She also received an Order of the British Empire - Officer (Civil) (OBE) in the Queens Birthday Honours list on 14 June 1980 for her services to literature.


The daughter of railway workers, Patsy Adam-Smith was raised in a number of small Victorian country towns. She enlisted as a Voluntary Aid Detachment during the Second World War and was the first female to be articled as a radio officer when she worked on an Australian merchant ship from 1954-1960. In Hobart from 1960-1967 she was employed as an Adult Education Officer before taking the position of manuscripts field officer for the State Library of Victoria from 1970-1982.

In 1978 her book The Anzacs shared The Age Book of the Year Award and was made into a 13 part TV series. In 1980 she was the recipient of an OBE for services to literature. Prisoners of War won the 1993 triennial Order of Australian Association Book Prize. In 1994 Adam-Smith was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for her outstanding services to community history.

Her autobiography was published in two parts - Hear The Train Blow and Good-bye Girlie. For Good-bye Girlie Adam-Smith won the 1995 Benalla Award for Audio Book of the Year, and the 1995 TDK Australian Audio Book Awards, Unabridged Non-Fiction Category.


17 March 1943 - 14 July 1944
Served with the Australian Army Medical Women's Service
1954 - 1960
Radio operator on an Australian merchant ship
1960 - 1967
Adult Education Officer in Hobart
1970 - 1982
Manuscript Field Officer for the State Library of Victoria
State President of Australian Writers, Victoria
Federal President of the Fellows Australian Writers, Victoria
1976 - 2001
Member of the Board of Directors for the Royal Humane Society Australasia
Appointed Officer of the British Empire
1983 - 2001
Committee Member of the Museum of Victoria
Received Triennial Award from the OBE Association
Awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia

Sources used to compile this entry: AustLit: The Australian Literature Resource, 2002,; Lahey, John. (2001) Obituary, The Age 26 September 2001, p.11. (Today section); Johnson, Lyall and Cameron, Deborah. (2001) The Anzac legend's great storyteller dies at 77, The Age 22 September 2001, p.5;, accessed 2001-09-26; Herd, Margaret (ed). (2000) Who's Who in Australia 2001 Melbourne: Information Australia Group Pty Ltd; AustLit entry - 2002,

Related entries

Archival resources

Australian War Memorial Research Centre

  • Interview with Patsy Adam-Smith. (When the war came to Australia), 24 June 1991, F04158; Adam-Smith, Patricia Jean (Patsy) (1924 - 2001); Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details

National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office

  • BECKETT, Patricia Jean [nee Smith], 1943 - 1946, MT415/1; National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office. Details

National Library of Australia Oral History Collection

  • Patsy Adam-Smith interviewed by Hazel de Berg in the Hazel de Berg collection, ORAL TRC 1/550; Adam-Smith, Patricia Jean (Patsy) (1924 - 2001); National Library of Australia Oral History Collection. Details

Anne Heywood

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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