Sunday, October 17, 2010


 De Beer Photograph Album Ca 1920

Esmond de Beer and his sisters, Mary and Dora, never married. After their parents died (Emily in 1930, Isidore in 1934) they lived together in London. The sisters had previously travelled between London, Europe and New Zealand. They enjoyed the outdoors. Dora was a mountaineer who made many climbs in the Southern Alps, the Swiss Alps and, in 1938, Yunan, China. Esmond and Mary were pedestrians - indefatigable walkers and trampers. All three regularly holidayed on the Hebridean island of Raasay.
The de Beers were among the most important benefactors of Dunedin’s cultural institutions. Esmond wrote, ‘My sisters and I have always thought of Dunedin as our ‘‘home’’, our essential background, and have wanted to do what we could towards the furtherance of its learning and culture’. All three were collectors: Esmond’s rare books were a scholar’s tool; Dora had a passion for rugs and textiles, often gathered on her travels; Mary loved poetry; all appreciated the visual arts. Many gifts to institutions were in the name of all three.

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