Charles Todd

'Telegraph' Todd was celebrated for his achievement in planning and organising the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line from Adelaide to Darwin, linking Australia to the outside world. Yet Todd himself has remained a shadowy figure, eluding a series of biographers for more than a century after his death. This article identifies the increasing availability of biographical resources over time and reviews the challenges which biographers faced in bringing to life the career of a great pioneering Australian.

A new book, The Weatherman from Greenwich: Charles Todd  1826 to 1910, promises to be a biography of Charles Todd, telecommunications pioneer in Australia. The title is, however, misleading. Most of the book is devoted to social influences in England and South Australia that may have shaped Todds early life. Todds early technical experience in England and his first activities in Australia are briefly sketched. Readers seeking a fuller account of Todds life and achievements should look elsewhere.

In 2017 a new biography, Behind the Legend - The Many Worlds of Charles Todd, by Denis Cryle, was published. Cryle has written an engaging book that is thoroughly researched and referenced. It will appeal both to historians and to the general reader without expertise in any of the scientific or technical fields inhabited by Todd.

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