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Michael Stanley Reid Sharland (1899–1987)

by Michael Roe

This article was published:

Michael Stanley Reid Sharland (1899-1987), naturalist, conservationist, journalist and photographer, was born on 14 June 1899 at Bellerive, Hobart, fourth child of Tasmanian-born parents Alfred Fullarton Sharland, architect, and his wife Violet Agnes, née Scott.  William Stanley Sharland and James Reid Scott were his grandfathers; Charles Schaw was his great-grandfather.  Although a member of elite Tasmanian families, Stan knew straitened circumstances; his education, at Campbell Town, went only to government-school primary level.  Working on his father’s pastoral run, he developed a strong feeling for nature.

At 18 Sharland moved to Hobart and soon joined the Mercury newspaper.  Virtually every week one of his essays, bylined 'Peregrine', appeared in the Illustrated Tasmanian Mail (1921-35) and the Mercury (1935-81).  They revealed particular enthusiasm for bird life, but ranged over nature subjects generally and raised human concerns.  Active (1921-71) in the Tasmanian Field Naturalists’ Club, he also began travelling in mainland Australia; he developed ties with the Royal Australasian Ornithologists’ Union, writing articles for Emu from 1922.  His splendid photographs often illustrated his articles.  Leonard Rodway and Robert Hall were mentors and A. N. Lewis was a contemporary enthusiast.

On 14 March 1928 at St David’s Cathedral he married with Church of England rites Iris Kettlewell, a notably intelligent and capable person.  Now writing as Michael Sharland, he worked on the Sydney Morning Herald (1927-28) and the Melbourne Argus (1928-31).  Returning to the Herald, he was involved with the RAOU, the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales and the Gould League of Bird Lovers.  Early in 1941 he resumed employment with the Mercury.  In March 1942 he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force as a photographer and cinematographer.  Except for a couple of months in Papua in early 1943 and in North Queensland, he was attached to Air Force Headquarters in Melbourne, and the Paratroop Training Unit at Richmond, New South Wales.  Back at the Mercury after his discharge in December 1944, he published Tasmanian Birds (1945).

In 1947 Sharland became secretary of the Tasmanian Scenery Preservation Board, overseeing both national parks and the historic built environment.  His time at the SPB coincided with a growth in historical awareness and an increase in community interest in the natural environment.  President (1945-48, 1954-55, 1958) of the TFNC, he was named an honorary member in 1952.  He was also president (1949-51) of the RAOU.  His Stones of a Century (1952) honoured Tasmania’s heritage buildings.  The board’s acquisition of Entally House, Hadspen, as a showpiece of well-to-do colonial life, was his greatest success.

After he resigned in 1961, Sharland and his wife travelled extensively, in Australia and overseas.  He produced many publications, including Tasmanian Wild Life (1962), A Territory of Birds (1964), and These Verdant Plains (1971).  His books offered pleasant, substantial reading; his black-and-white photographs approached brilliance.  On the occasion of 'Peregrine’s' golden jubilee he declared:  'We do not have a right to hand on to our successors a riddled, raped and ravaged planet'.  He opposed the flooding of Lake Pedder and plans to dam the Franklin River.  Survived by his wife and their daughter and one of their two sons, he died on 11 February 1987 in Hobart and was buried in Campbell Town cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • Tasmanian Naturalist, no 91, October 1987, p 7
  • M. Roe, 'Michael Sharland: For Nature and Heritage', Papers and Proceedings (Tasmanian Historical Research Association), vol 55, no 1, 2008, p 44
  • Mercury (Hobart), 14 February 1987, p 3
  • Sharland papers & photographs (Archives Office of Tasmania, Australian Museum, Sydney, and Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery)
  • A9301, item 31642 (National Archives of Australia).

Citation details

Michael Roe, 'Sharland, Michael Stanley Reid (1899–1987)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 23 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (Melbourne University Press), 2012

View the front pages for Volume 18

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