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Percival Serle was born in Melbourne and educated at Scotch College. As a teenager he visited Europe with his parents, which awoke his interest in art. He later spent six months researching at British and European galleries. In 1911 he joined the council of the Victorian Artists Society, and was a member of the council for forty years. Serle worked for twenty years in a life assurance office then became chief clerk and accountant at the University of Melbourne. He retired in 1920 to devote his time to literary research. From 1929-38 he ran a second-hand bookshop and was a guide/lecturer at the National Gallery of Victoria. He was curator of the Gallery's Art Museum and president of the Australian Literature Society from 1944-46. Serle's publications include A Bibliography of Australasian Poetry and Verse : Australia and New Zealand(1925), and An Australasian Anthology (1927, with R. H. Croll and Frank Wilmot). In 1944 he edited the poems of 'Furnley Maurice', Frank Wilmot's pseudonym. His outstanding achievement was his Dictionary of Australian Biography (1949) which took nearly twenty years to complete and contains more than one thousand biographical sketches of prominent Australians, or people closely connected with Australia. He finished this work at the age of 75. His son, Geoffrey Serle, published a memoir, Percival Serle, in 1988.