John Grant Duncan-Hughes (1882-1962) was the son of Sir John Duncan, a wealthy pastoralist. He was born at ‘Hughes Park’ near Watervale, South Australia. When he was young, his name was changed to Duncan-Hughes, in memory of his great-uncle, Sir Walter Hughes. He was educated at St Peter’s College in Adelaide, Cheltenham College in England and Trinity College, Cambridge. He was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple in 1907 and the South Australian Bar in 1908. He served in the Royal Field Artillery in France and Belgium in 1915-18 and was awarded the Military Cross. He was the aide-de-camp and later private secretary to the Governor-General in 1920.

At the 1922 general election Duncan-Hughes was elected to the House of Representatives for the seat of Boothby. He stood as a Liberal candidate, but within the Parliament he soon joined the Nationalists. He was defeated in 1928. He returned to Canberra in 1932 as a Senator for South Australia. He did not contest the 1937 election, but in 1940 he was elected to the House of Representatives as the member for Wakefield. He was defeated at the 1943 election. In his later years he divided his time between his property at Watervale and Adelaide. He was involved in many philanthropic and church activities and he always had a strong interest in foreign affairs. He was a member of the Round Table and the Australian Institute of International Affairs.


The Duncan-Hughes Collection was presented to the Library by Gertrude Duncan-Hughes, the wife of J.G. Duncan-Hughes, in 1963.


The Duncan-Hughes Collection consists of about 6200 books, mostly published in the period 1880-1960. The great strength of the collection is in English literature, especially poetry, plays, editions of letters, and literary criticism. Other areas of strength are Greek and Roman classics, French literature, German literature, Russian literature, British history, political biography, European history, military history, European art, classical music, and travel.

Duncan-Hughes had an interest in collecting editions of private presses. There are 87 titles (103 volumes) in his collection, including works of the Golden Cockerel Press (1922-39), the Nonesuch Press (1922-39), Alphonse Lemerre (1923), Scholartis Press (1927), Shakespeare Head Press (1927), Cresset Press (1929) and the Folio Society (1951).

There are a small quantity of Australian books, including works written by friends of Duncan-Hughes such as F.W. Eggleston, W.K. Hancock and C.A.S. Hawker.


With the exception of the private press imprints, which are housed in the Rare Books Collection, the Duncan-Hughes Collection has been kept together as a formed collection. They are arranged alphabetically by the name of the author. The call numbers have the prefix DH. About half of the books have entries in the Library's catalogue.

Related collection

The sets of journals owned by J.G. Duncan-Hughes are held in the Barr Smith Library in the University of Adelaide.


Oliver, Bobbie, Duncan-Hughes, John Grant (1882-1962) in The Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate, edited by Ann Millar, vol. 2, Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 2004, pp. 268-72