Edward Duyker

Edward Duyker (born 21 March 1955) is an Australian historian and conservationist born in Melbourne, Victoria to a father from the Netherlands and a mother from Mauritius. Despite recent immigrant roots, his mother has ancestors from Cornwall who emigrated to Adelaide, South Australia, in 1849, and he is related to the Australian landscape painter Lloyd Rees. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Melbourne in 1981, for a thesis on the participation of the tribal Santals in the Maoist Naxalite insurgency in India. Duyker was recruited by the Australian Department of Defense in Canberra in early 1981 and eventually worked in the Joint Intelligence Organization. He left in July 1983 to take up a position as a Teaching Fellow at Griffith University, Brisbane, but ultimately settled in Sydney as a full-time author in 1984. Between 1996 and 2002 he also served as the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Mauritius in New South Wales.

Historical Work

Edward Duyker’s books include several ethno-histories — Tribal Guerrillas (1987), The Dutch in Australia (1987) and Of the Star and the Key (1988) — and numerous books dealing with early Australian exploration.

Using the Dutch and French linguistic resources of his family, he edited The Discovery of Tasmania(1992). An Officer of the Blue (1994), his biography of Marc-Joseph Marion Dufresne (the first explorer after Abel Tasman to reach Van Diemen's Land), was launched by former Prime Minister of Australia Gough Whitlam. Nature’s Argonaut (1998), his biography of Daniel Solander the Swedish naturalist on HM Bark Endeavour, was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier's History Awards
 in 1999.

Duyker is also the co-editor, with Per Tingbrand, of Daniel Solander: Collected Correspondence (1995). With his mother Maryse Duyker, he published the first English translation of the journal of the explorer Bruny d’Entrecasteaux in 2001. Citizen Labillardière (2003), his biography of the naturalist Jacques Labillardière
, won the General History Prize among the New South Wales Premier's History Awards
 in 2004.

Although a long-term Sydney resident, he has twice been a resident of the Cité internationale des Arts in Paris. and is a frequent visitor to Tasmania. With Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown, he was an outspoken campaigner for the protection of Recherche Bay, from logging. François Péron: An Impetuous Life (2006), his biography of the controversial zoologist of the expedition of Nicolas-Thomas Baudin to Australian waters (1800—1803), won the Frank Broeze Maritime History Prize in 2007. Duyker has also edited A Woman on the Goldfields (1995), dealing with the life of Emily Skinner on the nineteenth-century Victorian gold fields, and co-authored Molly and the Rajah (1991), the life of Mary Esme Fink, an Australian woman who married the Rajah of Pudukkottai, India, in 1915. In 2007 he published A Dictionary of Sea Quotations with a deeply personal introduction on his family’s links with the sea.


Edward Duyker was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French government in 2000. He was awarded the Centenary Medal by the Australian Government in 2003 and the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2004. He was elected a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in November 2007. The late Professor Greg Dening once described him as ‘an historian’s historian’.

Books by Edward Duyker

  • Mauritian Heritage: An Anthology of the Lionnet, Commins and Related Families (1986)
  • Tribal Guerrillas: The Santals of West Bengal and the Naxalite Movement (1987)
  • The Dutch in Australia (1987)
  • Beyond the Dunes: A Dutch-Australian Story (Co-authored with Maryse Duyker) (1987)
  • Of the Star and the Key: Mauritius, Mauritians and Australia (1988)
  • Molly and the Rajah: Race, Romance and the Raj (co-authored with Coralie Younger) (1991)
  • The Discovery of Tasmania (1992)
  • The Second Landing: Dutch Migrant Artists in Australia (co-authored with Hendrik Kolenberg) (1993)
  • An Officer of the Blue: Marc-Joseph Marion Dufresne South Sea Explorer 1724-1772 (1994)
  • Daniel Solander: Collected Correspondence 1753—1782 (with Per Tingbrand) (1995)
  • A Woman on the Goldfields: Recollections of Emily Skinner 1854—1878 (1995)
  • Nature's Argonaut: Daniel Solander 1733—1782, Naturalist and Voyager with Cook and Banks (1998)
  • Mirror of the Australian Navigation (1999)
  • Bruny d’Entrecasteaux: Voyage to Australia and the Pacific 1791—1793 (with Maryse Duyker) (2001)
  • Citizen Labillardière: A Naturalist’s Life in Revolution and Exploration 1755—1834 (2003)
  • François Péron: An Impetuous Life: Naturalist and Voyager (2006)
  • A Dictionary of Sea Quotations (2007)


  • Marius Damas, Approaching Naxalbari, Radical Impression, Calcutta 1991, pp. 68-70 ISBN 81 85 459 01 0
  • Greg Dening, 'Too Many Captain Cooks', Australian Book Review, June/July, 2003, pp. 10-11.
  • Johan Kruithof, 'A Case of Cultural Theft', in Sue Calwell and Daniel Johnson, There's More to Life than Sex & Money, Penguin, Ringwood 1997, pp. 85-7 ISBN 0 14 026359 4
  • Patricia Rolfe, ‘Better Breton than Briton’, The Bulletin [Sydney], 17 May 1994, p. 96.
  • ‘Exploring the explorers’, Agora, 2004, p. 48.
  • Vivienne Skinner, ‘A man for the times: Edward Duyker’, Sydney Morning Herald, Weekend Edition, September 16—17 2006, My Career, p. 2.
  • Who’s Who in Australia, Crown Content, Melbourne 2008, p. 676.

External Links

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