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Scholar, engineer, historian and bibliophile. He became an important benefactor of the Tasmanian Public Library (later the State Library of Tasmania) when, in 1923-24 and 1933, he presented his collection of books to that institution, thereby significantly enriching its collections, particularly in the field of Australiana and Tasmaniana.
William Walker was born in Hobart on 25 February 1861, to William Walker (senior) and Caroline Walker (née Cawston). William Walker senior was a sea captain working for the AA Guano Company, which mined and transported guano from Bird Island, off the Queensland coast with his ship the Wolverine. Walker was quiet and studious as a child.
He won his first scholarship at the age of twelve to attend The Hutchins School where he ‘showed his mathematical interests’. At the end of his secondary schooling Walker won a scholarship to the University of Melbourne to study Civil Engineering. Walker was awarded the Certificate of Engineering from the University of Melbourne in March 1883. In January 1884, he returned to Tasmania and joined the Lands and Works Department as an Engineer, living in Deloraine. He designed the railway bridge at Latrobe and the bridge at Corra Linn, and also supervised line-laying work on the north-western section of the expanding Tasmanian railways. Around 1882 Walker became engaged to Mary Ann Lumsden of Hobart, and married on 5 December 1885.
For more information see: Tasmanian Historical Research Association. Papers and proceedings, vol. 54, no. 3, Dec. 2007, pp. 107-127: Mr Walker's books, or how the Tasmanian public library founded a collection and forgot a donor, by Heather Gaunt.