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Anderson, William George (1889–1974)

by J. P. Holroyd

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

This is a shared entry with George Anderson

George Anderson (1878-1969) and William George Anderson (1889-1974), printers, were born on 12 August 1878 in Edinburgh and 22 April 1889 at Footscray, Melbourne, first and fourth sons of Thomas Anderson, shipwright, and his wife Elizabeth Ogilvy, née McDonald, both Scottish born. Thomas and Elizabeth migrated to Victoria with their family in the late 1880s. On leaving school, George worked for a Melbourne printer, to whom he was probably apprenticed. He later joined another printer, Bryam Rutter Gowan, whom he eventually bought out. Trading as Keystone Printing Co., he took Herbert Du Rieu, a jobbing printer, into partnership in 1912 and printed many books for George Robertson & Co., publishers. In 1916 Keystone became Anderson, Gowan & Du Rieu Pty Ltd, following Gowan's return as sleeping partner; George was managing director. When Du Rieu retired in 1918 the company was named Anderson, Gowan Pty Ltd: it concentrated on coloured brochures after Robertson & Co. curtailed publishing activities.

On 23 December 1901 George married Emily Sarah Green at Fitzroy with Methodist forms; they were to have three daughters and a son. Although he had received only a basic education, he was an avid reader with a thirst for knowledge and had a prodigious memory. Having matriculated in 1907 at the University of Melbourne, he graduated B.A. (1918), M.A. (1920), LL.B. (1922), LL.M. (1923), B.Com. (1927), M.Com. (1928) and Litt.D. (1949). He wrote Fixation of Wages (1929) and was honorary lecturer in industrial relations at the university in 1930-54. His personal library of seven thousand volumes included incunabula and fine editions.

President (1921-23 and 1931-32) of the Master Printers' Association of Victoria, he organized its jubilee exhibition of 1932 in the Melbourne Town Hall. In 1924-25 he had been foundation president of the Printing and Allied Trades Employers' Federation of Australia. Called to the Bar in 1924, George Anderson served as the federation's industrial advocate in 1924-41. He was active in the Economic Society of Australia and New Zealand and a fellow (1941) of the Advertising Association of Australia; he often spoke on fiscal and printing matters, besides contributing to journals and symposiums. A fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, he was president of the Victorian branch of the British Astronomical Association in 1953-55 and 1961-62, and also belonged to Rotary and the Melbourne Club. Survived by his daughters, he died on 3 May 1969 in East Melbourne and was buried in Burwood cemetery; his estate, which contained no realty, was sworn for probate at $154,000.

After attending Williamstown and South Melbourne State schools, Bill Anderson was apprenticed to Varley Bros, printers; from 1908 he completed his apprenticeship with Francis A. Brown and Henry E. Prior. On 12 May 1914 at Park Street Methodist Church, South Melbourne, Bill married Martha Ann Waite. They went to New Zealand where he was employed by Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd at Christchurch. In 1918 he returned to Brown, Prior & Co. They prospered and by 1925 were able to build their own premises, Printcraft House, 430 Little Bourke Street. From 1922 the firm printed most of Robertson & Mullens's publications: the list grew and Brown, Prior & Co. produced many attractive volumes for them, including some limited editions. Bill was in charge of production; his high standards attracted other publishers to the house in a period when many local books were poorly produced. The firm became Brown, Prior, Anderson Pty Ltd in 1937, with Bill its managing director; in 1966, when he was chairman of directors, it moved to Burwood.

President of the Master Printers' and Allied Trades' Association in 1935-36 and 1941-42, and of the Printing and Allied Trades Employers' Federation of Australia in 1945-46, Bill represented the trade on the Apprenticeship Commission, and served on book publication and manpower committees in World War II. His recreations were gardening and lawn bowls. Survived by his four daughters and two of his three sons, he died on 13 June 1974 at Hampton and was cremated; his estate was sworn for probate at $140,610.

Select Bibliography

  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 15 June 1974
  • Anderson papers (State Library of Victoria)
  • records, University of Melbourne
  • private information.

Citation details

J. P. Holroyd, 'Anderson, William George (1889–1974)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/anderson-william-george-9968/text16427, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 21 November 2018.

This article has been amended since its original publication. View Original

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

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