Gilbert Pendrill Charles (1905–1985) was born in London, the son of a Harley Street doctor. He gained his Licentiate in Medicine and Surgery at the Society of Apothecaries (London) in 1930. After working in private practice, he undertook an Arts degree at Cambridge University and trained in a public health laboratory. He worked in the Southern Counties Laboratories in 1936–41 and served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1942–46. From 1946 to 1950 he was based in Hanover, working as a public health adviser in the Control Commission for Germany. In 1950 Charles and his family emigrated to Australia and acquired a farm near Cooma, New South Wales. He decided that he preferred administration to farming and from 1954 to 1973 he was the industrial medical officer at the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority. In 1974 he moved to a small farm near Moss Vale and for a few years was medical director of the Watson Rehabilitation Centre at Bowral.
While based in Northern Ireland during World War II, Charles became passionately interested in fly fishing and began to collect books on angling. Cooma attracted him partly on account of the trout fishing nearby and in the time that he lived there he continued to build up a small but remarkable collection on freshwater fishing.
The Library purchased the Charles Collection from Charles in 1970.
The Charles Collection, which relates entirely to angling, comprises 176 books, 27 pamphlets, 29 catalogues of tackle, three issues of Hardy’s Anglers’ Guide with five supplements (1931–37), seven booksellers’ catalogues and 42 issues of nine angling journals. The great majority were published in England and Scotland.
The collection is especially strong in early English publications on angling, with 88 pre-1900 imprints. They include:
Best, Thomas, A concise treatise on the art of angling (1794)
Bowkler, Richard, The art of angling improved (1746)
Hansard, George, Trout and salmon fishing in Wales (1834)
Jacob, Giles, The country gentleman’s vade mecum (1717)
Markham, Gervase, Country contentments, or the husbandman’s recreations (1649)
Markham, Gervase, The pleasures of princes, or good men’s recreations (1635)
Nicols, Arthur, The acclimatisation of the salmonidae at the Antipodes: its history and results (1882)
Nobbes, Robert, The compleat troller, or the art of trolling (1682)
Ronalds, Alfred The fly-fisher’s entomology (1856)
Senior, William, Travel and trout in the Antipodes (1880)
Shirley, Thomas, The angler’s museum, or the whole art of float and fly fishing (1784)
Stoddart, Thomas, The angler’s companion to the rivers and lochs of Scotland (1847)
Venables, Robert, The experience’d angler: angling improv’d (1668)
Walton, Isaac, The compleat angler, or the contemplative man’s recreation (fourth edition, 1668)
All the books in the Charles Collection, irrespective of date of publication, are housed in the Rare Books Collection. However, they have not been kept together as a formed collection. The books have been catalogued individually. A bound volume of the accession slips is available.
Roche, Gilbert, Obituary of Gilbert Pendrill Charles, Medical journal of Australia, vol. 145 (1), July 1986, p. 52.