28 October 2013

University of Melbourne Acquires Germaine Greer's Archive

News broke a few hours ago that the University of Melbourne has acquired the archive of one of its leading alumni, the notable academic and feminist, Germaine Greer.

According to the write-up in The Guardian:

'The archive, including manuscripts of Greer's books, her diaries and correspondence with some of the most significant intellectuals and politicians of the past century, fills more than 150 filing cabinets and spans the years from her student life in Melbourne, Sydney and Cambridge to the present day. It includes early notes for and a synopsis of her groundbreaking bestseller The Female Eunuch, as well as diaries and letters to her lovers, family and friends ... The correspondence files include letters from the novelist Margaret Atwood, activist Abbie Hoffman, film director and actor Warren Beatty (who was at one time Greer's lover), art critic John Berger, former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto, film director Federico Fellini, former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, writer and television personality Clive James, feminist writer Dale Spender and many more'.

The University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis said the university will ship, catalogue and digitise the archive, which will be exhibited at the university.

The archive is expected to arrive in Melbourne in July 2014. Proceeds from the $3m purchase will go to the Friends of Gondwana Rainforest.

Announcement and 'About the Archive' on the University of Melbourne, University Library, website.

22 October 2013

Preserving Blaeu's 'Archipelagus Orientalis'

[A look at the conservation work being done on the National Library of Australia's copy of Joan Blaeu's map, the Archipelagus Orientalis, sive Asiaticus (1663), acquired by the NLA earlier this year. The map, as noted in the post below, is just one of four surviving copies known.]
[Reposted from the NLA's Behind the Scenes blog]
Opening on 7 November, our summer blockbuster Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia features one of the Library’s recent major map acquisitions – Archipelagus Orientalis, sive Asiaticus (Eastern and Asian archipelago), 1663 by Dutch master cartographer Joan Blaeu (1596-1673).
This remarkable wall chart – one of only four surviving copies in the world, is in an exceedingly fragile state, but conservators from the Library’s Preservation Branch have embarked on a meticulous and time-consuming preservation treatment to stabilise it for display. Fortunately, the areas of greatest interest, illuminating the story of the Dutch discovery of Australia – the mention of the first sighting of Tasmania and the text naming the continent – are intact and clearly visible.
We produced this video to highlight the significant preservation work that is underway:

If you would like to make a financial contribution to the preservation of the Blaeu map, you can make a tax-deductible  donation online or download and return the donation form. You can learn more about the preservation effort on our webpage dedicated to the map.
We are pleased to release this video under a Creative Commons licence that makes it available for everyone to share and re-use. Because of that, we have been able to upload the video to Wikimedia Commons which allows it to be used directly within Wikipedia articles – notably on the biography of Blaeu himself. We would like to especially acknowledge the Wikipedian in Residence at the National Library of the Netherlands for translating the captions to this video into Dutch.

10 October 2013

Eyewitness Letter to the Capture of Ned Kelly Surfaces After 133 Years

The Victorian bushranger Edward 'Ned' Kelly is one of nineteenth-century Australia's most well known and controversial figures. His exploits in Victoria and southern New South Wales, which culminated in the siege at Glenrowan (late June 1880) where Kelly and members of his gang donned make-shift body armour to deflect police bullets, have seen Kelly labelled an outlaw and murderer by some and folk hero by others.

Now, after 133 years, a letter containing an eyewitness account of Kelly's dramatic capture during the siege has been donated to the State Library of Victoria by the descendants of its author – Scotsman, Donald Gray Sutherland.

What makes this letter particularly interesting is that it offers a new perspective. According to the historian Alex McDermott, unlike previous accounts, which were written either by government officials or Kelly sympathisers, Sutherland was 'an everyday bank teller from Oxley, a little town near Glenrowan, and [was] not on the side of the Kellys and ... not on the side of the police'.

[From the State Library of Victoria website]

The letter addressed to Sutherland’s family on 8 July 1880 proclaims ‘… the Kelly’s are annihilated. The gang is completely destroyed…’. It continues describing Kelly’s famous armour and the gunshot wounds that finally brought him down.

‘He was wounded in 5 or 6 places, only in the arms and legs – His body and head being encased in armour made from the moule (sic) boards of a lot of ploughs. Now the farmers about here, have been getting their moule boards taken off their ploughs at night for a long time but who ever dreamed it was the Kellys and that they would be used for such a purpose. Ned’s armour alone weighed 97 pounds. The police thought he was a fiend seeing their rifle bullets mere sliding off him like hail. They were firing into him at about 10 yards in the grim light of the morning without the slightest effect. The force of the rifle bullets made him stagger when hit but it was only when they got him in the legs and arms that he reluctantly fell exclaiming as he did so I am done I am done.’

Sutherland enclosed a lock of hair from Kelly’s horse with the letter, noting in the postscript, ‘The hair enclosed is from the tail of Ned Kelly the famous murderer and bushranger’s mare. His favourite mare who followed him all around the trees during the firing. He said he wouldn’t care for himself if he thought his mare safe.’

Sue Roberts, CEO and State Librarian described the donation of the letter as extremely generous and a significant addition to the Kelly story.

‘This letter is a very personal account of events that have become part of Australia’s folklore. We are delighted that Mr Sutherland’s family chose the State Library of Victoria as caretaker for this remarkable document. It will join Ned's armour, Jerilderie Letter and other important items in our Kelly collection – one of the largest and most significant in the world.’

The letter will be on display in the State Library’s Changing Face of Victoria exhibition from Monday (14 October). It is also available online with a full transcript via the State Library website.

07 October 2013

Panel Discussion on 'Beautiful Books'

The Wheeler Centre has uploaded video of the 2013 Melbourne Rare Book Week opening night panel discussion 'Beautiful Books':


'Passionate bibliophiles – including a collector, a designer and a twenty-first-century book-maker – will explore changing perspectives on what makes a book beautiful … and what makes us treasure it long after its shelf life.

With Des Cowley, Rare Printed Collections Manager at the State Library of Victoria, designer W. H. Chong, and booki.sh founder Virginia Murdoch. Hosted by Steve Grimwade.

In the midst of the e-revolution, where we’re as likely to download as to leaf through a book, the idea of the book as an object of beauty is being lost. Or is it?'

Melbourne Rare Book Week ran from 18 to 28 July.