Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Norman Sören Lynravn (1912–1970)

by Pauline Fanning

This article was published:

Norman Sören Lynravn (1912-1970), librarian and author, was born on 26 April 1912 in South Melbourne, fourth child of Jens Sörensen Lyng, draughtsman, and his Victorian-born wife Gertrude Eleanor, née Burrowes. Jens had come to Australia from Denmark in 1891, worked in turn as a newspaper editor and public servant, and published several books, two of them on non-British immigrants in Australia. Norman was educated at the Central School, Caulfield North, Melbourne High School and Canberra University College (B.A., 1937). In 1929 he joined the Federal Capital Commission, Canberra, as a junior clerk and in the following year transferred to the Parliamentary Library of which the Commonwealth National Library (later National Library of Australia) formed part.

In 1938 he changed his surname to Lynravn: one of the reasons was that he wanted to make a career on his own merits rather than being always known as 'old Lyng's son'. At St Saviour's Cathedral, Goulburn, New South Wales, on 23 December 1939 he married with Anglican rites Joan Meredith Dart, a 19-year-old stenographer; she later became known as a contributor of satirical verse to the Canberra Times. Understating his age, Lynravn enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 19 December 1941 and was posted to the 2nd/14th Light Field Ambulance. In 1943 he transferred to the Australian Army Education Service. He served in Papua and New Guinea in 1944-45 where he contracted a liver infection which permanently affected his health. Back in Australia, he was commissioned lieutenant in September 1945 and transferred to the Reserve of Officers in March 1946.

Lynravn's wartime experience of trying to meet diverse educational needs in remote areas led him to seek responsibility for the National Library's service to outlying territories. His first assignment was to re-establish the public library in Port Moresby. From 1947 he was the National Library's chief preparation officer. In 1953-56 he was its liaison officer in London; his duties included oversight of the transfer to Australia of the Gayer-Anderson collection and the papers of John Grant. He was director of publications when he retired in 1968 due to ill health.

A foundation member (1937) of the Australian Institute of Librarians (later Library Association of Australia), Lynravn contributed regularly to professional literature, his Libraries in Australia (Melbourne, 1948) being an overall survey. In addition, he wrote general articles, reviews, entries for the Australian Dictionary of Biography, short stories and crime fiction, such as (with L. W. Martin) Murder on Mount Capita (Sydney, 1944). He was a member of the Canberra Fellowship of Australian Writers and, while in London, of the Society of Australian Authors.

Lynravn was 5 ft 9 ins (175 cm) tall, with blue eyes and a fair complexion. As a young man he had played (1929-40) Australian Rules football for Ainslie. An able librarian and a competent, considerate administrator, he was a strong advocate of a wide-ranging educational role for his profession. His laconic manner of speech, puckish humour and occasional practical jokes endeared him to his colleagues. Survived by his wife and son, he died from complications of Banti's syndrome on 30 October 1970 at Queanbeyan, New South Wales, and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • Canberra Times, 17 Sept 1938, 26 Mar 1969, 31 Oct 1970
  • A. T. Bolton, taped interview with Cliff Burmester (1988, sound recording, National Library of Australia)
  • C. A. Burmester, Memoirs (transcript, National Library of Australia)
  • File A3901 (National Library of Australia)
  • Ainslie Football Club records
  • private information.

Citation details

Pauline Fanning, 'Lynravn, Norman Sören (1912–1970)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 22 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (Melbourne University Press), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Lyng, Norman

26 April, 1912
South Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


30 October, 1970 (aged 58)
Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia

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