Born in 1924, Patricia Smith was adopted by railway workers, her mother a station-mistress and her father a fettler – growing up in a number of small Victorian country towns and educated at small country schools.
In conservative 1950s Australia, Patsy defied convention, stepping outside the traditional, feminised space of the home to earn a living from writing. She embarked on a roving existence on the road and at sea, often living and working as the only female amongst a group of men. Throughout her life she has displayed a passion for adventure and scholarship, and a great love of Australia.
The author of more than 30 books, Patsy Adam-Smith introduced many readers to Australian history – working as Manuscripts Field Officer for the State Library of Victoria for 12 years until 1982. Some of her well known books include Hear the Train Blow: An Australian Childhood (1964), There was a Ship (1967), Australian Women at War (1984) and Goodbye Girlie (1994).
Her book The Anzacs shared Book of the Year Award in 1978 and was later made into a 13 part TV series. Patsy read over 8000 diaries and letters to write the book. Soldiers sought her out to tell her why they went, what they saw, and how they felt about the great war.
Patsy was the recipient of an OBE for services to literature in 1978 and an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1994 for her outstanding services to community history. She died in 2001, aged 77.