Oh Er­rol, he was just like him

Theodore Thom­son Flynn: Not Just Er­rol’s Fa­ther

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - Ross Fitzger­ald

THIS self-pub­lished bi­og­ra­phy of the Tas­ma­nian bi­ol­o­gist who sired one of Aus­tralia’s great­est movie stars is a gem. With an ex­cel­lent in­dex and a re­veal­ing se­ries of pho­to­graphs, the thor­oughly re­searched book is a credit to Ho­bart cou­ple Vicki and Tony Har­ri­son, who went down the self-pub­lish­ing route af­ter be­ing un­able to in­ter­est a com­mer­cial pub­lisher.

Theodore Thom­son Flynn was born in Co­raki in north­ern NSW in 1883. He came from a mod­est back­ground and at 15 started work as a pupil-teacher in coun­try NSW. Af­ter com­plet­ing his stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Syd­ney, he be­came, at just 28, pro­fes­sor of By Tony and Vicki Har­ri­son Artemis Pub­lish­ing, 238pp, $35 bi­ol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Tas­ma­nia. His two main fields of in­ter­est were marine bi­ol­ogy and fish­eries, and mar­su­pial em­bry­ol­ogy and its place in mam­malian de­vel­op­ment.

Through the years Flynn es­tab­lished an in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion as a re­searcher in bi­o­log­i­cal and zoo­log­i­cal sciences. But not hav­ing been af­forded what he re­garded as proper per­sonal and aca­demic re­spect in Ho­bart, and hav­ing be­ing hounded by univer­sity bu­reau­crats, he de­cided to look for po­si­tions else­where, prefer­ably over­seas.

De­spite the ef­fects of the De­pres­sion, in 1931 Flynn was for­tu­nate enough to be ap­pointed to the chair of zool­ogy at the pres­ti­gious Queen’s Univer­sity in Belfast. While there he also served as chief of Belfast’s Ca­su­alty Clear­ing Ser­vice dur­ing World War II, for which he was awarded an MBE.

Given its sub­ti­tle, Not Just Er­rol’s Fa­ther, it’s no sur­prise this book deals in con­sid­er­able de­tail with a com­par­i­son be­tween Flynn and

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