State Library of Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 69 Autumn 2002


From the Editorial Chair

Each Number of The La Trobe Journal brings its own set of possibilities and problems. This time our particular concern has been how best to illustrate Des Cowley's article on women illustrators of the colonial period. Mostly their representations of the flora and fauna took the form of full-colour plates in large folios. With limited resources we had to be very selective — omitting, for example, better-known artists Louisa Ann Meredith, Louisa Atkinson and Ellis Rowan — while aiming to display the range and variety of the work such women produced. The pages of this journal are smaller than those in which most of the illustrations appeared, but we hope that our full-page colour illustrations will give readers an impression of the appeal of the originals.
Along with the earlier article, ‘Distinct Creation: Early European Images of Australian Animals’ (no. 66), which he co-authored with Brian Hubber, Des Cowley's scholarly account of colonial women illustrators gives a glimpse of some of the treasured volumes of natural history in the State Library. Readers of this journal do not need to be reminded of the role that collectors play in the building up of a library. The collecting of books and also manuscripts is the theme of several articles in this number. Vane Lindesay, a generous supporter of the Library over many years, talks about how he began to collect books. Wallace Kirsop draws attention to the remarkable collection of a nineteenth-century Melbourne lawyer and politician, some of whose books are now in the State Library. From the family of another nineteenthcentury gentleman the Library has received not only the collection of books briefly described by Des Cowley, but also the handsome bookcases made to house them, the history of which is documented by Ruth Dwyer. Jock Murphy recalls how energetically the Library's first Manuscripts Field Officer, Patsy Adam-Smith, herself a highly successful maker of books, collected manuscript material.
The collections in the Library are used by researchers over a wide range of subjects, and the Library itself is involved in continuing research into the provenance of material it holds, such as the Ned Kelly items on which Allison Holland and Dean Wilson write. To those literary critics like myself, who for many years thought that Tom Collins's reference in Such is Life to ‘one of those De Lacy Evanses we read about in novels’ was to an obscure Victorian novel, Mimi Colligan's thorough research into the extraordinary ‘personation case’ (as nineteenth-century journalists called it) has a special interest.
In producing the Journal we try to be as accurate as possible, but unfortunately don't always succeed. In the last number, in which Map Librarian Judith Scurfield paid tribute to her late colleague Estelle Canning, the date of Estelle's death was wrongly recorded as the year 2000. Estelle Canning was born in 1957 and died in 1999. We greatly regret this inexplicable error on our part.
John Barnes