The Flower Raj - People & Places in the land of the Gods - India revisited. Alastair & Hedda Morrison - in Memoriam
obits, memorials, remembrances & information


Alastair Robin Gwynne Morrison, born Peking, China, August 24th 1915 - died Canberra, Australia, August 4th 2009 at the age of 93.

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Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


The London Times  "Rumbustiously gentle, perceptive, kindly, generous in his judgment of others, the warmth of his personality made him friends wherever he went ... ",

Sydney Morning Herald  "Wanderlust was strong in Alastair Morrison, inherited from his father, George ''Chinese'' Morrison. He spent almost his whole life on the move, starting from his birth in China ... ".

China Heritage  "Alastair Morrison, traveller, ornithologist, conservationist, colonial administrator, high-level public servant, story-teller and limerick lover, son of George Ernest Morrison, husband of Hedda Hammer Morrison, generous host, and great friend to many people from diverse social and cultural backgrounds, passed away in Canberra on 4 August 2009, at the age of 93 ... ".

Powerhouse Museum  "Alastair Morrison, Life Fellow and great friend of the Powerhouse Museum, passed away on Tuesday 4 August, aged 93. Alastair was one of the Museum's most consistent and generous donors over a long period of time, in particular with gifts to the Asian collections and working closely with curator Claire Roberts ... ".

The Free Library  " ... In early 1967, four years after Sarawak had become part of the new Federation of Malaysia, Alastair and Hedda moved to Canberra where he took up a senior position as head of the Southeast Asia branch of the Office of Current Intelligence under the Joint Intelligence Organisation ... ".

Books by Alastair:

The bird fancier: a journey to Peking  " ... this charming memoir of a young man making his way in the world in the 1930s and 1940s. The Bird Fancier is an engaging account of the author's own travels through Britain, Scandinavia, Iceland, Europe, South America, and Asia, in search of bird specimens for the British Museum and live birds for the London Zoo".

Fair Land Sarawak  "Some recollections of an expatriate official ... ".

Articles, Letters, Etc by & about Alastair:

Defending Dr Hoeppli  "John Fairbank in his review of Hugh Trevor-Roper‘s biography of Sir Edmund Backhouse in your issue of April 14 follows that author in regarding my old friend Dr. Reinhard Hoeppli as a simpleton who was taken in by Backhouse. This is a complete misconception ... ".

The Diary of a District Officer  "In 1953, Alastair Morrison, then acting District Officer for the Baram, traveled to the Kelabit Highlands along with his wife, photographer Hedda Morrison, and an ever-changing entourage of "coolie" porters and guides. This journey was part of his regular responsibilities as a District Officer ... ".

On Hedda Morrison:

Alastair would have been annoyed at me putting Hedda after himself, he always maintained she was the creative & talented one & that he was a mere administrator!

Hedda Morrison (nee Hedwig Marie Hammer), born Stuttgart, Germany, December 13th 1908 - died Canberra, December 3rd 1991.

The Hedda Morrison Photographs of China  The Harvard-Yenching Library holds some 5,000 photographs and 10,000 negatives taken by Hedda Hammer Morrison (1908-1991) while resident in Beijing from 1933 to 1946. The photographs, mounted in thematic albums prepared by Mrs. Morrison, and the negatives, were bequeathed to the Harvard-Yenching Library, “the best permanent home for her vision of a city and people that she loved [Alastair Morrison].”

Hedda Morrison Photographic Collection  (Powerhouse Museum, Sydney) - “During her thirteen years in Peking, Hedda Morrison took thousands of photographs that document architecture and streetscapes, craftspeople at work, street vendors, and religious or folk customs ... The images seen here have been selected from a large group of photographs that were donated to the Powerhouse Museum by Alastair Morrison in 1992”.

Hedda Morrison's China  “Born in Stuttgart in 1908, Hedda studied photography at the Bavarian State Institute for Photography in Munich and in 1933 left Germany, which was coming increasingly under Nazi control. She secured a job in Peking as manager of Hartung's Photo Shop, a commercial studio with a well-established clientele of diplomats and resident foreigners ... ”.

Hedda Morrison's Linhof Satzplasmat camera  “Hedda Morrison bought this Linhof Satzplasmat camera while she was a student at the Bavarian State Institute for Photography in Munich (1929-31). Alastair Morrison notes it ‘survived falling down a crevasse at Mont Blanc and was much used by Hedda in China for architectural studies’. Morrison's favourite camera was the twin lens Rolleiflex, which was more compact and convenient to use than the Linhof”.

Belt Toggles Collection (Netsuke)  “These are some of the 249 toggles collected in Peking by Hedda and Alastair Morrison. Most of them were purchased from markets outside Chongwenmen Gate, and in Liulichang, the antiques street. The toggles functioned as weights to counterbalance dress accessories such as tobacco pouches. They are similar to Japanese netsuke in terms of their function, though are less well known ... ”.

Books by Hedda:

Travels of a Photographer in China, 1933-1946 by Hedda Morrison (Oxford University Press USA, 1987).

A Photographer in Old Peking by Hedda Morrison (Oxford University Press USA, 1986).

Hedda Morrison's Hong Kong: Photographs & Impressions 1946-47 by Edward Stokes (Hardcover - Nov 2005).

Hong Kong As It Was: Hedda Morrison's Photographs, 1946-47 by Edward Stokes (Hardcover - Oct 15, 2009).

Sarawak (2nd Ed) by Hedda Morrison (Hardcover - Jan 1, 1968).

Life in a Longhouse by Hedda Morrison (Hardcover - 1962).

Vanishing World: The Ibans of Borneo by Leigh, Hedda Morrison & K. F. Wong Wright (Hardcover - 1972).

   The Morrison grave - plot 224 (225, 226). Morrison grave (click inside the map & zoom in).    Bus stop from Honiton. Bus stop from Honiton.
The Morrison Grave, Temple Street Cemetery, Sidmouth, Devon. Sidmouth is a seaside town on the South coast of England, where the family came, for health reasons, in 1920. In remembrance of Hedda & Alastair Morrison, these two plaques were added June 2011 to the Morrison family grave, Temple Street Cemetery, Sidmouth, Devon UK. Alastair & Hedda never lived in England & rarely visited, I remember their shopping expeditions in the '50s when they took their two-yearly 'home' leave from Sarawak & purchased everything they needed for jungle living, at Harrods!

Family members have helped to put up these two new plaques for Hedda & Alastair. We will remember them with love & respect & cherish what they gave to us.


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