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Ned Kelly's Jerilderie Letter among treasures visiting Mill Park Library

Ned Kelly's armour is one of the most iconic, and popular, items in the Library's collection

Media release

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Monday 02 August 2010

Ned Kelly’s famous Jerilderie Letter, along with a detailed eye witness account of the Eureka Stockade and one of Melbourne’s earliest (handwritten) newspapers are among the treasures of the State Library of Victoria coming to Mill Park Library on Thursday 5 August as part of the award winning Travelling Treasures program.

Travelling Treasures extends suburban and regional Victoria’s access to the collections of the State Library by touring some of its most significant items, providing rare and intimate access to these treasures.

Cameron Hocking, Travelling Treasures tour manager says this is a unique opportunity to see very rare items outside of the State Library walls.

'These are the original documents coming to Mill Park, not copies. Ned Kelly's manifesto, the Jerilderie Letter, reveals the thoughts and motivations of our most famous bushranger. It sits alongside an eye witness account of the Eureka Stockade written by Raffaello Carboni, one of the leaders of the rebellion. Then there's the second edition Melbourne's first newspaper, The Melbourne Advertiser, handwritten by one of Melbourne's founders John Pascoe Fawkner. Anyone with an interest in Victoria’s personalities and history shouldn’t miss this,' he said.

The Travelling Treasures tour includes a presentation a from Library collection expert highlighting the stories behind each object.

Tour details

Travelling Treasures will be appearing at:
Mill Park Library
394 Plenty Road Mill Park
Thursday 5 August 6–7.30pm.
Entry is free but bookings are essential
Bookings: 03 9437 8189

For full program details, phone: 03 8664 7558 or visit our What's on calendar.

Travelling Treasures Item Descriptions

Edward (Ned) Kelly
In February 1879, Ned Kelly and his gang held up the Bank of New South Wales at Jerilderie and presented this letter, which articulated a defence of Kelly's actions, for publication in the Jerilderie and Urana Gazette. Although the words were Ned's, the letter was penned by Joe Byrne, whose handwriting was deemed the neatest of the four. In the absence of the newspaper's editor, the 56-page document was accepted on his behalf by Edwin Richard Living, the bank's accountant. The letter was not published at the time and its contents were not made public until the late 1940s.

Despite limited education, Kelly used the written word and a uniquely potent turn of phrase to articulate his claims of innocence and to plead for justice for his family and the poor Irish selectors of north-eastern Victoria.

Two pages from the original letter will be travelling on tour. All 56 pages of the Jerilderie Letter can be viewed online as part of the Library's Treasures collection. The Library also holds the original armour worn by Ned Kelly.

John Pascoe Fawkner
John Pascoe Fawkner was the son of a convict and a felon himself, but he was also a man of many talents that were legal - among other things, he was a farmer, baker, builder, hotel owner, publisher and politician. Fawkner opened the first hotel in the new colony and this hotel was, in effect, the first de facto library - patrons were able to browse and borrow books from the hotel's shelves.

Fawkner married commerce and culture and in 1835 established the Melbourne Advertiser, the city's first newspaper. The first nine issues of the Melbourne Advertiser were handwritten in ink on four pages of foolscap paper. Fawkner had obtained a printing press in time for the publication of the tenth issue, but he released a manuscript copy as well.

The second issue of the newspaper will tour as part of Travelling Treasures. Handwritten on 8 January 1838, this issue covers a variety of topics relevant to Melbourne's community, including goods and services for sale and those wanted, current affairs relating to criminal activity, and the latest incoming and outgoing ships.

This, along with the other handwritten issues, is held in the State Library's Australian Manuscripts Collection. Digital copies and transcripts can be viewed online as part of the Port Phillip Papers Digitisation Project.

Raffaello Carboni
Raffaello Carboni was a linguist who spoke five languages, an adventurer in search of gold and opportunity, a patriot who fought for his native country, and an egotist who wanted his share of fame.

Born in Italy, Carboni was involved in politics from his early years, fighting against the French in Rome in 1849, going into exile after the loss and, like a great many others, coming to Australia to chase gold in 1852. Carboni is most famous for his account of the battle at the Eureka Stockade. Peter Lalor had directed Carboni to organise the non–English speakers in battle, and even though he didn't fight at the stockade he was one of twelve charged with high treason, a charge for which he was acquitted.

Carboni's contemporaneous account of the Eureka Stockade, The Eureka Stockade: the consequence of some pirates wanting on quarter-deck a rebellion, remains one of the most important historical accounts of this fight for justice.

This first edition of the book is held in the State Library's Rare Books Collection. The Library also holds an eyewitness account of the uprising by Samuel Lazarus, preserved in his diary. The Lazarus diary can be viewed online as part of the Library's Treasures collection.

In 1944, Angry Penguins, co-edited by Max Harris, one of modernism's keenest Australian supporters, found itself the target of Australia's most renowned literary hoax - a deception that was a major setback for Australian modernist literature.

Behind the hoax were James McAuley and Harold Stewart, who were based at the Victoria Barracks in St Kilda Road. Over the course of an afternoon they created a collection of modernist poems and invented a fictional poet, Ern Malley, to highlight the 'decay of meaning and craftsmanship in poetry'. They constructed their poems using a number of different sources, including the Concise Oxford Dictionary, a dictionary of quotations, a rhyming dictionary, a collection of Shakespeare's plays and an American report on the drainage of swamps.

McAuley and Stewart sent the poems to Harris, writing in the guise of Malley's sister, Ethel. Harris thought that he'd found a modernist genius and immediately set about publishing Malley's poems. When the real authors were revealed, Harris was not only the subject of ridicule but was also convicted for distributing indecent material.

The hoax prompted the publication of many books, including the pamphlet Ern Malley and the Angry Penguins, and there continues to be much discussion and debate surrounding Ern Malley

On tour are two letters and a telegram that capture the story of the hoax and how it came to be unveiled.

Sonya Hartnett's first novel was published when she was a teenager, in 1984. Since then she has matured into one of Australia's most important writers, creating literary works for readers of all ages. Hartnett's work is direct, challenging and sometimes uncompromising, often examining the darker side of existence. She is renowned for her characterisation and lyrical prose and has won numerous awards, most notably the 2008 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.

Hartnett drafted her first submission letter as a fifteen-year-old and a few months later received a cautious but encouraging reply from the publisher, Rigby. Hartnett heeded her future publisher's advice and worked on her novel further before resubmitting it. Soon after, Trouble All the Way was published and by the end of that year Hartnett had received her first royalty statement, which showed that she had earned an impressive $2355.91.

On tour is Hartnett's letter to Rigby publishers in 1983, the letter she received in return, and her first royalty statement. The State Library holds all of Sonya Hartnett's books in the Children's Literature Collection.