• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE0120

Adam-Smith, Patricia Jean (Patsy)

(1924 – 2001)
  • Born 31 May, 1924, Victoria Australia
  • Died 20 September, 2001
  • Occupation Author, Historian, Servicewoman


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.



  • 1983 - 2001

    Committee Member of the Museum of Victoria

  • 1976 - 2001

    Member of the Board of Directors for the Royal Humane Society Australasia

  • 1973 - 1973

    Federal President of the Fellows Australian Writers, Victoria

  • 1973 - 1973

    State President of Australian Writers, Victoria

  • 1970 - 1982

    Manuscript Field Officer for the State Library of Victoria

  • 1960 - 1967

    Adult Education Officer in Hobart

  • 1954 - 1960

    Radio operator on an Australian merchant ship

  • 1993 - 1993

    Received Triennial Award from the OBE Association

  • 2043 - 2044

    Served with the Australian Army Medical Women’s Service

  • 1994 - 1994

    Awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia

  • 1980 - 1980

    Appointed Officer of the British Empire

Published resources

  • Newspaper Article
    • Patricia Jean (Patsy) Adam-Smith, AO, OBE, Lahey, John, 2001
    • The Anzac legend's great storyteller dies at 77, Johnson, Lyall and Cameron, Deborah, 2001
    • Anzacs author led us through our history, Ricketson, Matthew, 2001
    • Storyteller brought Anzac legend alive, Stanley, Peter, 2001
    • Leading Tasmanian literary figure dies, Wood, Danielle, 2001
    • Weaver of dreams, teller of our tales, Ebury, Sue, 2001
  • Edited Book
    • Who's Who in Australia 2001, Herd, Margaret, 2000
  • Article
  • Book
    • Folklore of the Australian Railwaymen, Adam-Smith, Patsy (collected and edited), 1969
    • Hobart Sketchbook, Adam-Smith, Patsy (text), Angus, Max (drawings), 1968
    • No Tribesman, Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1971
    • Romance of Australian Railways, Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1973
    • The Desert Railway, Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1974
    • Neon Signs to the Mutes: Poetry by Young Australians, Adam-Smith, Patsy; Dugan, Michael and Hamilton, J S (edited by), 1976
    • Footloose in Australia, Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1977
    • Historic Tasmania Sketchbook, Adam-Smith, Patsy and Woodberry, Joan (text); Angus, Max; Mather, Frank and Phillips, Arthur (drawings), 1977
    • Trader to the Islanders [There was a Ship], Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1977
    • The ANZACS, Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1978
    • Islands of Bass Strait, Adam-Smith, Patsy (text); Powell, John (photographs)
    • Victorian and Edwardian Melbourne from old photographs, Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1979
    • Outback Heroes, Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1981
    • The Shearers, Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1982
    • When We Rode the Rails, Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1983
    • Australian women at war, Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1984
    • Heart of Exile: Ireland, 1848, and the Seven Patriots Banished…, Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1986
    • Australia: Beyond the Dreamtime, Keneally, Thomas; Adam-Smith, Patsy and Davidson, Robyn, 1987
    • Prisoners of War, Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1992
    • Trains of Australia: All Aboard, Adam-Smith, Patsy, c1993
    • Goodbye Girlie, Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1994
    • Patsy Adam Smith's Romance of Australian Railways, Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1974
    • Moonbird People, Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1965
    • Hear the Train Blow: An Australian Childhood, Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1964
    • Across Australia by Indian-Pacific, Adam-Smith, Patsy, c1971
    • Port Arthur Sketchbook, Adam-Smith (text); Phillips, Arthur (drawing), 1971
    • Re-discovering Tasmania: The North-West Coast, Beckett, Pat and Piet Maree; Harris, Ian (ed.), 1955
    • There was a Ship, Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1967
    • The Barcoo Salute, Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1973
    • Tasmania Sketchbook, Adam-Smith, Patsy (text); Angus, Max (drawings), 1982
    • Launceston Sketchbook, Adam-Smith, Patsy (text); Phillips, Arthur (drawings), 1973
    • Tiger Country, Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1968
    • The Rails Go Westward, Adam-Smith, Patsy, 1969
    • Australian women writers : a bibliographic guide, Adelaide, Debra, 1988
  • Resource Section
  • Site Exhibition
  • Resource

Archival resources

  • National Library of Australia, Oral History and Folklore Collection
    • Patsy Adam-Smith interviewed by Hazel de Berg in the Hazel de Berg collection [sound recording]
  • National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office
    • BECKETT, Patricia Jean [nee Smith] VFX124737 [6 pages]
  • Australian War Memorial, Research Centre
    • Interview with Patsy Adam-Smith (When the war came to Australia)
  • State Library of Victoria
    • Christmas letters, 1974-1995, [manuscript] / Patsy Adam-Smith
    • Papers, 1993-1994 [manuscript]
    • Papers of Patsy Adam-Smith, [not after 2000] [manuscript].
  • National Library of Australia
    • [Biographical cuttings on Patsy Adam-Smith, containing one or more cuttings from newspapers or journals]
    • [Biographical cuttings on Patsy Adam-Smith, containing one or more cuttings from newspapers or journals]
  • National Library of Australia, Manuscript Collection
    • Literary papers 1969-1981 [manuscript]

Related entries

  • Related Organisations
    • Australian Army Medical Women's Service (AAMWS) (1942 - 1951)
    • Voluntary Aid Detachments (VAD) (1914 - )
    • The Sybil Irving Memorial Fund Committee
  • Related Concepts
    • History and Historians