The 2009 exhibition The independent type: books & writing in Victoria celebrated Melbourne’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature.
The exhibition focused on Victoria's rich and diverse written culture, highlighting the stories, the voices and the spirit of independence that have made our literature unique.
Listen to the audio tour of the exhibition, narrated by Ramona Koval, host of ABC Radio National's The book show.
'Indigenous storytelling': Hear a unique insight into a contemporary possum skin cloak made by Vicki Couzens, a Gunditjmara woman from the Keerray Wurrong language group of Western Victoria, and discover meanings behind its use and markings.
'Birth of a Library': Redmond Barry's commitment to the development of the Library and its collection was all encompassing. Hear how Barry devoted a great deal of thought and care to the cataloguing and arrangement of the Library’s collection in the new colony.
'Psuedonyms': Discover the real identities behind some of Victoria's famous writers. Pseudonyms were popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries among Australian writers, and were often used to conceal gender and unwanted celebrity.
'Joseph Furphy & his champion': Hear how Melbourne school teacher Kate Baker campaigned for public recognition of author Joseph Furphy and his classic Australian novel Such is Life, and how this tireless advocacy was recognised by the literary community.
'Henry Handel Richardson': Discover more about the writer who became Australia’s greatest writer of the early 20th century. She published books across four decades, including such classics as The getting of wisdom and The fortunes of Richard Mahony.
- 'The independent type' audio tour: part 6
'Geoffrey Blainey': Learn about the Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey and how his writing, though respected, has also been controversial and provoked debate. By choosing to write for the public and not academia, Blainey has taken a creative approach to the writing of history.
'Portraying writers': Listen to the story behind Rick Amor’s portrait of writer Alex Miller. The illustration appeared in an issue of literary magazine Overland and reveals the connections between literary and artistic worlds.
'The Australian Performing Group': Hear about Melbourne's long and dynamic history of theatre and performance in places such as La Mama and the Pram Factory, involving people like David Williamson and Jack Hibberd.
'The Dromkeen Medal': Discover the personal story of Agnes Nieuwenhuizen and how her dedication to young readers represented changes in how writers, illustrators and publishers catered for the imagination and sophistication of young reading audiences.
'Performance poetry': Find out what happens when you take poetry out of the universities and onto the stage. From the late 1970s performance poetry began to breathe new life into the poetry scene, and the results are often political, experimental and unpredictable.
'Meanjin': Learn about literary magazine Meanjin and its founder Clem Christensen, whose creative principles produced a journal of ideas that encouraged free expression and intelligent criticism. Meanjin, along with Overland and the Australian book review, is one of Australia’s most important literary magazines.
'Overland': Find out the history behind Overland and its chief steward Stephan Murray-Smith, who aimed to develop writing talent in people of diverse backgrounds and sustain Melbourne as a hub of literary publishing.
'Independent booksellers': Discover how Victoria has made itself Australia’s home of independent booksellers. Unlike many places in the world where large chain stores rule, independent and secondhand bookshops remain vital to Melbourne's literary culture.