Sir (Malcolm) Peter Crisp (1912–1984) was born in Burnie, Tasmania, and educated at Burnie Convent School, Riverview College (Sydney) and the University of Tasmania. He was called to the Bar in 1933. In 1935 he was appointed Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court of Tasmania and he subsequently held other official posts, including Crown Prosecutor, Crown Solicitor and Solicitor-General. He was appointed a King’s Counsel in 1951 and in 1952 became a judge of the Supreme Court of Tasmania. He was knighted in 1969 and retired in 1971.

Crisp had a strong interest in libraries. He was President of the Library Board of Tasmania from 1956 to 1977. He was a foundation member of the National Library Council and Chairman in 1971. He was also President of the Library Association of Australia in 1963–66 and Chairman of the Australian Council of Bibliographical Services in 1973–83.

In a paper entitled ‘The vicarious angler’, Crisp wrote that ‘my principal recreation has been to fish for trout and, for one brief period, salmon … Over the years [I] have sought, vicariously, to assuage my perpetual disappointments by recourse to the literature of angling, rather fitfully and intermittently, perhaps, but with an ever increasing interest, instruction and sometimes amusement’. He described his collection of fishing books as a working collection, not a rare book collection. For instance, he did not hold any early editions of Izaak Walton’s The complete angler. He hoped that in the Library his collection would complement the Charles Collection, which was smaller but contains a number of books published in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.


Crisp bequeathed his collection of fishing books to the Library. It was received in 1985.


The Crisp Collection comprises 696 books and pamphlets relating to freshwater fishing. The majority are British publications, but there are also about 130 Australian works and a number of books published in New Zealand and America. Although most of the works date from the twentieth century, there are a substantial number of nineteenth-century imprints.

Examples of some of the early works in the collection are:

Badham, Charles, Prose halieutics or ancient and modern fish tattle (London, 1854)

Bainbridge, George, The fly fisher’s guide (London, 1840)

Best, Thomas, A concise treatise on the art of angling (London, 1804)

Brown, John J. , The American angler’s guide (New York, 1876)

Chitty, Edward, The fly fisher’s text book (London, 1841)

Davy, Humphry, Salmonia: or days of fly fishing (London, 1829)

Hofland, T.C., The British angler’s manual (London, 1839)

The London angler’s book or Waltonian chronicle (London, 1834)

Medwin, Thomas, The angler in Wales, or days and nights of sportsmen (London, 1834)

Oliver, Stephen, Scenes and recollections of fly fishing in Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmoreland (London, 1834)

Phillips, Henry, The true enjoyment of angling (London, 1843)

Salter, T.F., The angler’s guide (London, 1825)

Tenison-Woods, J.E., Fish and fisheries of New South Wales (Sydney, 1882)

Walton, Izaak, The complete angler or the contemplative man’s recreation (London, 1860)

Wilson, Samuel, The Californian salmon, with an account of its introduction into Victoria (Melbourne, 1878).

Other authors represented in the collection include Robert Blakey, Frank Buckland, F. Cholmondeley-Pennell, Viscount Grey of Falloden, Stephen Gwynn, John Waller Hills, Vic McCristal, Arthur Ransome, William Senior, H.T. Sheringham, Thomas Tod Stoddart, Eric Taverner, Harvey Turing and Lawrence Wackett.


The Peter Crisp Collection has been kept together as a collection. The books have been catalogued individually; the call numbers have the prefix MPC.


Brown, W.L., Obituary of Sir Peter Crisp, Australian Academic and Research Libraries, vol. 15 (1), March 1984, pp. 46–7.

Finlay, H.A., Crisp, Sir Malcolm Peter (1912-1984), Australian Dictionary of Biography Online

Obituary of Sir Peter Crisp, The Mercury, 15 February 1984, p. 2.

First posted 2008 (revied 2019)