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Author in-conversation: Robert La Nauze

  • Date recorded: 24 Aug 2017

  • Duration: 33:22

'What happened when they came out to the colonies was you had to be a jack-of-all-trades: you had to be a carpenter, a joiner, a cabinet maker, otherwise you couldn't survive.'

– Robert La Nauze on George Thwaites

About this video

Watch author Robert La Nauze talk with historian Graeme Davison about colonial cabinet makers George Thwaites and sons, whose handcrafted furniture added style and grace to the buildings of 'marvellous Melbourne'.

From magnificent cedar desks in Victoria’s banks, to breakfront bookshelves in country residences and fine furniture still used today at Government House and Ripponlea, Thwaites' furniture was designed to be useful and comfortable as well as elegant.

La Nauze discusses the colonial context in which Thwaites worked, the influence of the Gothic Revival on his style, and his working practices in both England and Melbourne.

Made to order: George Thwaites and sons, colonial cabinet makers by Robert La Nauze is published by NewSouth Publishing in association with State Library Victoria.

This is a recording of a free event held at the Library on 24 August 2017.


  • Robert La Nauze is a practising artist who previously worked in research and technology management for the energy and extractive mining industries. His biography of William Thwaites, Engineer to marvellous Melbourne (2011), was shortlisted for the 2012 Victorian History Publication Awards.
  • Graeme Davison is Emeritus Sir John Monash Distinguished Professor in the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies at Monash University. He is an urban and social historian interested in the uses of history for public policy. His publications include The rise and fall of marvellous Melbourne (1978 and 2004), The unforgiving minute: how Australia learned to tell the time (1991), The use and abuse of Australian history (2000) and Car wars: how the car won our hearts and conquered our cities (2004).