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The Spirit of Knowledge


Nestled into the extensive boulevard that is North Terrace, the University of Adelaide
is South Australia’s oldest university.

Created in the 1870s, it was a product of concerned South Australians who desired to better the educational prospects of their society. By the early 1880s, the land that had once been home to the Kaurna Aboriginal people, then usurped by European settlers in the 1830s, became the site for the construction of the first of the University’s buildings. Even at this early stage in its life, the University of Adelaide reflected the pulse of South Australian life.

As the University population grew, further buildings were added to the site adjacent to North Terrace. In a very real sense, the campus began to take on a life of its own. That life mirrored the students and academics who studied and taught there, as well as the buildings that were purpose constructed for the site. Neither was the place immune from the day-to-day struggles of a wider world and the University was constrained by those events. However, there was a constant conversation between the University and South Australian society.

By the early twentieth century, an architect, Walter Bagot, had been appointed to oversee the planning and growth of the University. It was Bagot whose vision and influence so moulded the construction of the
place for the next fifty years. As the South Australian Government made available more land for the University, on the lower level of the site, near to the River Torrens, so Bagot’s plan developed around the
magnificentBarr Smith Library.

The Spirit of Knowledge not only describes the influence of architects and planners, but also of the academics, administrators and students whose lives were centred at the University of Adelaide. It sets out the University’s transition to a major research facility and highlights the contribution of many who worked and attended there.

The illustrations in the book and the major part of the research material have been sourced from the University’s own rich archive. Many of them have never before been seen publicly. These superb pictures, with the colourful and informative text, take readers on a journey of discovery about one of South Australia’s most notable institutions.

About the Author

Rob Linn is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide’s School of History and Politics.

Born in Adelaide, South Australia, Linn studied History at the University of Adelaide and later, taught Australian and South Australian History both there and at other tertiary institutions. Linn has an enthusiastic belief that written history can be vital, active and entertaining. His works have received acclaim and he has been the recipient of a number of local, national and international literary, print and publishing awards. His Nature’s Pilgrim, the life and journeys of Captain S.A. White, naturalist, author and conservationist, for example, was awarded the inaugural Lysbeth Cohen Memorial Prize for Biography by the National Book Council. He has over thirty published books, including major organisational and corporate histories.

The Spirit of Knowledge

A Social History of the University of Adelaide North Terrace Campus

by Rob Linn


Soft cover $39.95 + postage and packing

Hard cover $74.95 + postage and packing

Published in Adelaide by
Barr Smith Press
An imprint of the University of Adelaide Press
Barr Smith Library
The University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005



Level 4, Barr Smith Library North 
The University of Adelaide
SA 5005


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