20 April 2011

Guest Post: Recollections of Rose de Freycinet

Rose de Freycinet (1794–1832) was an exceptional woman in several ways. Although born to a middle-class family (her mother was a school teacher) she married into the aristocracy. When her husband, Louis de Saulces de Freycinet (1779–1842), was appointed to command the Uranie on a voyage of circumnavigation which sailed from France in September 1817 (and would return in 1820), Rose accompanied him, in flagrant disregard of regulations which forbade female passengers on French naval vessels. Initially, she dressed in male clothing—in itself scandalous behaviour—but soon switched to conventional female dress. She was also the first woman to sail around the world AND keep a diary of her experiences: this was published in French in 1926 and in English translation in 1996.

In November-December 1819 the Uranie made an extended visit to Sydney, and Rose's account of this visit is rich in details of the generous hospitality and the formal and informal social occasions in which she shared. Major-General Lachlan Macquarie (1762–1824), the colony's governor, and his wife and son, figure prominently in the passage recounting this period.

One of Rose's letters, in which she recollects Governor Macquarie, has been recently discovered in the Dunedin Public Library. It was written in Paris late in 1824, to a Miss E. Ashburne.

We learned some time ago of the death of the excellent General Macquarie, no-one more than us can feel such a real loss!  We were led to judge the goodness of his character on several occasions; he is one of those men whose death is regretted & felt by all those who had the good fortune to know him; his widow & his son are to be greatly pitied, for nothing can bring consolation for such a loss!

Macquarie had died in London on 1 July 1824, and Rose included in this letter a second one which she asked Miss Ashburne to pass on to Mrs Macquarie.

The letter also contains a further nod to the voyage of the Uranie. Rose envies the journey her correspondent has recently made to Scotland, something which she herself has long wished to do, rather than visit 'the wild Sandwich [Islands]' — that is, Hawaii — and 'the cloud-covered rocks of Cape Horn!!'

Signature of Rose de Freycinet

The Freycinet letter is held as part of the Dunedin Public Library's Autograph Letters & Manuscripts Collection, which includes more than 200 letters in French from the seventeenth to ninteenth century. The majority were written by members of the French aristocracy, such as Philip, Duke of Orleans (1640–1701); Louis Henri de Bourbon, Duke of Bourbon, Prince of Conde (1692–1740); and Louie Philippe (1773–1850), King of the French from 1830 to 1848, and his consort Maria Amalia (1782–1866). Letters by literary figures, like Alexander Dumas fils (1824–95) and Charles Nodier (1780–1844), and by a number of French and Belgian artists are also held.

By Roger Collins, Former Senior Lecturer in French and Art History, University of Otago.

18 April 2011

Recent Publication: 'Rare: A Life Among Antiquarian Books'

Stuart Kells's Rare: A Life Among Antiquarian Books (Sydney, 2011) chronicles the story of Kay and Muriel Craddock, two of the key figures in the Australian antiquarian book trade for more than forty-five years. The Craddocks are founding members of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Boosellers (ANZAAB), and their shop in Collins St, Melbourne, is a must for any visiting bibliophile.

A very enjoyable write up about Kells's book and the Craddocks was published on the ILAB website in February, and an interview with Kay Craddock aired on Radio New Zealand on 16 April (fifth in the broadcast order).

Copies of Rare: A Life Among Antiquarian Books can be ordered through Craddocks.

02 April 2011

Recent Acquisition: Johnsonian Keepsakes

The Library recently acquired a fine collection of mostly twentieth-century Johnsoniana from the library of Dr Stephen Parks, retired curator of the James Marshall and Marie-Louise  Osborn Collection of early-English manuscripts, held by the Beinecke Library, at Yale University.

Getting part of the collection in order

The core of the collection, a run of keepsakes printed for the annual Johnsonian dinner from 1948 through 2010, was given to Dr. Parks by James Osborn. Dr. Parks added to the core group of keepsake received from Osborn and amassed a number of other related items, including souvenir printings from the Johnson societies of Southern California and the Central Region, eight souvenir port glasses, distributed to members of the Johnsonians in 1988, and over twenty additional off prints and exhibition catalogues. Among the non-keepsake material are a short collection of verse printed in 1965 aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary for noted Johnson and Boswell scholar Hermann 'Fritz' Liebert, his wife Laura and 'their friends', and a delightful  'Johnsonian Quiz', believed to have been typed up by Liebert.

Page one of 'A Johnsonian Quiz'

All of these objects are collectible, highly displayable, and would have been of great interest to Sir Alfred Hamish Reed (1875-1975), whose collecting activities established an important Samuel Johnson collection in the Dunedin Public Library. Further promotion of this acquisition is being prepared and the collection is soon to be catalogued. Feel free to contact me with any enquiries.