Unexpected romance in the Baillieu Library: Dulcie Hollyock, librarian by day, writer of love stories by night

Next time you attend one of the talks or displays regularly hosted in the Dulcie Hollyock Room in the University of Melbourne Library, you may be intrigued to muse upon an unexpected link to the world of romance.

This conference room, located on the ground floor of the Baillieu Library, is named in honour of admired librarian, educator and writer, Dulcie Iona Hollyock (an English surname with unusual spelling, historically associated with Leicestershire).

Dulcie Hollyock (1914-2004)

Born in Essendon in June 1914, Hollyock graduated from the University of Melbourne in the 1940s with degrees in arts and education.  After quickly advancing within the library profession, she combined a long and respected career as Chief Librarian of the Victorian Teaching Training Colleges (1950-1974) with a natural flair for writing.

Hollyock’s compact but impressive body of published work ranged over several genres – education, history and fiction – her talents receiving recognition as winner of the Society of Women Writers’ annual short story prize in 1972.  Her stories and articles – such as ‘Fish at Fergus’s’, ‘Cathy and Lizzie’, ‘Flight’ and ‘Mary Curley at Sullivan Bay’ – appeared in a variety of periodicals, including the The Australian newspaper, popular weekly women’s magazine, New Idea, and the Society of Women Writers’ occasional anthology, Ink.

A writer of Gothic romance

Perhaps the  pinnacle of Hollyock’s writing success was attained in her 70s, when two novels – both set in 19th century Ireland – were published in the Harlequin Books Gothic Romance series.

The first, An innocent madness (issued July 1984) tells the story of the inexperienced Charlotte Bolton who arrives at the ancient manor of the Chivers family to marry the heir, Richard.  She is startled to find that he protests no knowledge of the betrothal, and that their courtship is hindered by the ethereally beautiful apparition, Nell Dillon.

This tale of impeded love was followed in the next year by Double masquerade (issued September 1985).  This time Hollyock’s heroine is Hannah, foster daughter of a poor family who are evicted from their land during the Irish Famine.  The girl seems to be rescued from her deprived situation by the wealthy Richard Ralston, who installs her in his romantically named Gothic mansion, Balaleigh.  The tantalising secret to their fate is contained within a golden locket which had been given to Hannah by her birth mother long before.

It is interesting to reflect on St Valentine’s Day if it is mere coincidence that both male protagonists in Hollyock’s novels are named Richard, and whether the name had an association with Hollyock’s own family, or perhaps an admired acquaintance.  Such musings are, however, speculative, and to find out whether the Richards in her stories prove dastardly or honourable, you will need to devour the suspenseful endings in the Baillieu Library.  The books can be reserved for viewing in the Reading Room by placing an order via the Library catalogue, though you may need to be quick to be at the head of the queue!

The University Library’s Romantic Fiction Collection

Should your romantic appetite be whetted by Dulcie Hollyock’s imaginative legacy, there are some 3,000 further titles to choose from in the Baillieu’s Romance Fiction Collection.  Read more about these stories by Australian, New Zealand and overseas writers, published by Mills & Boon, Silhouette and other specialist publishing houses in our explanatory guide.

Who would have supposed that so much romance was waiting to be found in the Baillieu Library!

Susan Thomas, Rare Books Curator

Bibliography & further reading

‘Dulcie Hollyock’ in Austlit: the Australian literature resource http://www.austlit.edu.au.ezp.lib.unimelb.edu.au/austlit/page/A46591

Flesch, Juliet (compiler).  Love brought to book: a bio-bibliography of 20th-century Australian romance novels.  Melbourne: National Centre for Australian Studies, 1995.

Hollyock, Dulcie.  Double masquerade.   Toronto : Harlequin Books, 1985.

Hollyock, Dulcie.  An innocent madness.  Toronto; New York: Harlequin Books, 1984.

Lindsay, Hilarie (editor).  Ink no. 2: 50th anniversary edition.  Sydney: Society of Women Writers, 1977.

 

 


Flemish baroque engravings donated to the Print Collection

A group of 14 Flemish baroque engravings by Scelte Adams Bolswert (1586–1659) was gifted to the Baillieu Library Print Collection by Dr Colin Holden in 2016. Bolswert was employed by the eminent artist, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) and several of these prints are after Rubens’ paintings.

The Flemish Region, or Flanders, a Dutch-speaking area of Belgium, furnished a tumultuous political and social backdrop to its flourishing baroque art of the 17th century.  Rubens was the foremost painter in Antwerp, its capital, and he relied on pupils and studio assistants to help produce his extensive and influential body of work. He was not a printmaker, but recognised the medium’s importance to his career and actively commissioned engravings after his designs. [1]

Many of Rubens exuberant subjects are biblical, such as Moses and the Brazen Serpent (1640-60). This engraving illustrates the episode in which the discontented Israelites, who were left to trudge through the lands of Edom, spoke against God and Moses. In punishment, God sent a plague of poisonous serpents to attack them, which is vividly depicted by the roiling bodies. The Israelites sought Moses’ help, who in turn received the remedy from God. Moses, seen at left with a staff, made a snake out of brass and set it on a pole: the brazen serpent. All the people that were stricken were healed by gazing upon it.

The New Testament subject, Salome Receiving the Head of St John from the Executioner (1638-59) depicts the notorious story of Herodias’ daughter Salome, holding the head of the preacher on a charger. The expressions of the figures portrayed evoke a range of emotions.

Pan, Playing the Flute (1638-59) engraved after Flemish artist Jacob Jordaens, in contrast, is a mirthful scene from classical mythology. The gift included four impressions of this image, in three states. A ‘state’ in printmaking is created when a change is made to the engraving plate, for example further details are added to the inscriptions, or details in the image are adjusted. Students studying prints will benefit from seeing, in these prints, the execution of different states.

Also after Jordaens, The family concert (1630-59) includes another title in the cartouche at the top of the image which translates: ‘As the old sing, so the young pipe.’ This and other moralising Dutch sayings and proverbs were popular in the 17th century as this engraving illustrates. Likewise the compositional motif of a family gathered around a table appears in several works of art of this period. The engaging dog seen at left of the image is intent not on the nourishing mores offered by the picture, but instead longs to devour the feast!

The late Dr Colin Holden (1951-2016) was a great friend of the Print Collection. He was print scholar, collector and a senior fellow of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne.

Kerrianne Stone (Curator, Prints)

Reference

[1]. Art Gallery of South Australia, The age of Rubens & Rembrandt: Old Master prints from the Art Gallery of South Australia: Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by Julie Robinson, Adelaide: Art Gallery Board of South Australia, 1993, p. 33


A not-so-familiar Father Christmas: A Merry Christmas Polka from 1847

Library catalogue permalink: http://cat.lib.unimelb.edu.au/record=b3196976

Looking at Christmas music in the Rare Music collection from Victorian-era Britain, I was surprised to see an unfamiliar Father Christmas-figure—a grinning giant—at the head of a very worn copy of the sheet music of a Merry Christmas Polka from 1847. I had expected to find a Santa in a fur-edged coat and hat, with a stout pair of boots and, perhaps, a fir tree over one shoulder; what I found (here rendered in green for festive effect!) was rather different.

Just ten years into Queen Victoria’s reign is a little soon for that particular Santa to be ubiquitous. After some general reading, I discovered that other illustrators depicting Father Christmas in the 1840s use graphic elements similar to those employed by the illustrator for this piece of festive sheet music, Alfred Ashley (1820-1897). 1) The holly wreath (instead of the hat) was common then as was the raised goblet. And Ashley’s Santa has “companions” from folklore, something not unknown in the 1840s. Here a goblin-like figure pulls himself over the top of the chair and what must surely be a leprechaun dances on his outstretched hand. The element of fantasy is something often found in Victorian-era illustration in, for example, the well-established genre of fairy painting. 2) Ashley’s Father Christmas is remarkably plainly dressed, in a non-descript smock, barelegged and with no apparent footwear, but he is toasting himself by a roaring fire: a yule log perhaps? The suspended mistletoe and profusion of food and drink (here just visible on the table) are other Christmas traditions in the illustration that have stood the test of time.

Engraved illustrations were increasingly common on sheet music in the 1840s and no doubt a significant incentive to purchase. Pianos, including compact cottage (upright) pianos for home use, were luxury goods, but were owned by the well-heeled middle and upper classes in increasing numbers. 3) It is these people—particular the fashionably dressed family in the foreground—who are depicted in the illustration, dancing at home, as was then a custom. And this polka, a couples dance distinguished by a hopping step, coincides with the early years of “polkamania” in Britain. 4) With its regular repeated 8 bar phrases, this is definitely a polka written for dancing rather than listening to. To hear the distinctive polka rhythm, and to get a sense of what these simple piano dances written for domestic use were like, please listen to short excerpts from the Merry Christmas Polka Finale below—the “big finish” is a very clear signal to the dancers that the music, and the dance, is nearing its end.

 

With best wishes for the Festive Season from all at Special Collections.

Jennifer Hill, Rare Music Curator

  1. This is no. 113 of the Musical Bouquet series; the composer is not named. The publisher, active from 1845 to 1917, went on to issue at least 8106 numbers, producing one, then two per week. The website http://www.musicalbouquet.co.uk/  is an excellent source of information and devotes a page to Alfred Ashley, with many examples of his work.
  2. David Wootton, The illustrators: the British art of illustration, 1800-1999 (London: Chris Beetles, 1999), p. 21-28.
  3. Derek Scott, The singing bourgeois: songs of the Victorian drawing room and parlour (Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1989), p. 45-49, 54.
  4. See Gracian Černušák, Andrew Lamb and John Tyrrell, “Polka” in Grove Music Online.

Wombat, wombach, whom-batt wonder: early scientific ‘trafficking’ of marsupalia to Europe

Library catalogue permalink: http://cat.lib.unimelb.edu.au/record=b6230685The unique fauna of Australia intrigued, bemused and excited the imagination of their European ‘discovers’ from the moment of the first animal sightings in the late 18th century.  One of these puzzling oddities was the wombat, which was described as a type of bear or a badger by northern naturalists grappling to classify the strange animal within existing scientific taxonomies, and said to taste of ‘tough mutton’ by sailors eager to sample fresh meat after many months at sea.

The nocturnal and retiring habits of the wombat appear to have protected it from the notice of the expeditionary voyages of James Cook, and the exploration parties associated with the first settlers.   Indeed it was almost a decade after settlement before the first wombat was sighted (February 1797), shortly ahead of the platypus (November 1797), koala (January 1798) and Tasmanian tiger (1805), though all were preceded by the discovery of the echidna (1792).  The earliest description of a kangaroo (or more precisely a wallaby) was made in Francois Pelsaert‘s 1629 account of the shipwrecked Batavia, though this report seems to have been unknown to Cook, who remarks on a kind of jumping ‘grey hound’ in his Endeavour journal of 24 June 1770.

As a group these strange pouched and egg-laying creatures presented a distinct challenge to European classifiers, as articulated by James Edward Smith (1759-1828), founder of the Linnean Society:

When [one] first enters on the investigation of so remote a country as New Holland, he finds himself as it were in a new world.  He can scarcely meet with any fixed points from whence to draw his analogies.

The first transported wombat

If you should ever find yourself in Newcastle upon Tyne, visit if you can the Great Northern Museum of natural history and archaeology, and utter a friendly ‘wombat-cough’ to a well-connected and well-travelled 218 year old stuffed Tasmanian wombat, the first specimen to be transported from Australia to Europe.

wombat-great-northern-museumAfter several wombat sightings in 1797, a live female specimen was captured on Cape Barren Island (Bass Strait) in March 1798 by a party of British naval officers (including a young Matthew Flinders).  The creature was taken by ship to Sydney and presented to amateur naturalist and Governor of New South Wales, John Hunter, where the ill-fated marsupial died after six weeks in captivity.  Hunter wrote of the unfortunate animal:

it was exceedingly weak when it arrived, as it had, during its confinement on board, refused every kind of sustenance, except a small quantity of boiled rice, which was forced down its throat.

Not wanting to let the opportunity for scientific research lapse, Hunter had the corpse preserved in alcohol and shipped to his friend Sir Joseph Banks (President of the Royal Society) in London for more detailed taxonomic examination.  In 1799 the soused specimen was barrelled onwards to the Literary and Philosophical Society in Newcastle (of which Hunter was a corresponding member), but not before the cask broke open, almost suffocating its carrier in ‘pungent and foul-smelling spirits’.  There Thomas Bewick prepared an engraving of the wombat (based on an original drawing by Hunter) which was printed in the fourth edition of his A general history of quadrupeds (1800), becoming the first published illustration of the animal.wombat-bewick-4th-edition

The ‘traffic’ in wombat specimens

From the early 1800s an increasing number of preserved wombats were shipped to Europe for dissemination amongst scientific circles.  Several other wombat pioneers found themselves unwitting live specimens, who were met with wonder and curiosity on disembarkation.  These included a wombat collected by the Scottish botanist Robert Brown (1773-1858) which he passed over to his friend, British surgeon and anatomist Everard Home (1756-1832), under whose watchful guardianship it lived cheerfully for two years:

It was not wanting in intelligence, and appeared attached to those to whom it was accustomed, and who were kind to it.  When it saw them, it would put up its fore paws on the knee, and when taken up would sleep in the lap. [1808]

The British were not the only nation with a thirst for scientific discovery, and the rival Pacific expeditions of the French also resulted in the capture and repatriation of marsupial specimens.  Three live wombats collected on the voyages of the Geographe and the Naturaliste commanded by Nicholas Baudin survived to arrive in France in 1803, at least one of which may have become the pet of Empress Josephine at Château de Malmaison.

Library catalogue permalink: http://cat.lib.unimelb.edu.au/record=b6230685

A recent acquisition: Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire’s natural history studies, 1834-1835

The Baillieu Library is fortunate to have recently acquired a copy of the 1834-1835 published studies of the distinguished French naturalist Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1772-1844). The volume includes two detailed papers on the platypus and echidna, and a skilfully rendered fold-out illustration of pair of wombats placed in a naturalistic setting.  As director of the Natural History Museum in Paris, Geoffroy was also administrator of the former Royal Menagerie, which had been relocated to the Jardin des Plantes after the French Revolution.  Here he could observe at first hand exotic animals which had been collected from a variety of sources, many of them previously held in private hands.  One of the more grisly directives following the 1789 revolution was that all exotic pets had to be turned over live to the former royal collection, or otherwise killed and given to the Jardin des Plantes for scientific studies, such as Geoffroy’s.  It seems that our two ‘French’ wombats were amongst the lucky survivors.

Susan Thomas, Rare Books Curator

Library catalogue permalink: http://cat.lib.unimelb.edu.au/record=b6230685      L0020768 Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. Lithograph by J. Boilly, 182 Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. Lithograph by J. Boilly, 1821. 1821 By: Julien Léopold BoillyPublished: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Bibliography and further reading:

Australian Broadcasting Commission. ‘The wombat boy’, Australian Story Program Archives, 25 March 2002 http://www.abc.net.au/austory/archives/2002/05_AustoryArchives2002Idx_Monday25March2002.htm

Cowley, Des & Brian Hubber.  ‘Distinct creation: early European images of Australian animals’, The LaTrobe journal, no.66, Spring 2000, pp. 3-32.

‘The first wombat to leave Australia’  http://pickle.nine.com.au/2016/09/15/11/33/first-wombat-to-leave-australia

Flinders, Matthew.  A voyage to Terra Australis undertaken for the purpose of completing the discovery of that vast country, and prosecuted in the years 1801, 1802 and 1803… Volume 1. London: Printed by W. Bulmer and Co., and published by G. and W. Nicol, 1814.

Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Etienne.  Etudes progressives d’un naturaliste pendant les années 1834 et 1835 : faisant suite a ses publications dans les 42 volumes des mémoires et annales du Museum d’Historie Naturelle.  Paris: Chez Roret, 1835.

Pigott, L.J. & Jessop, L. ‘The governor’s wombat: early history of an Australian marsupial’, Archives of Natural History, v. 34, 2007, pp. 207-218.

‘The tale of a wombat: a journey from Australia to Newcastle upon Tyne’, The Guardian, 30 December 2013 https://www.theguardian.com/science/animal-magic/2013/dec/30/wombat-australia-to-newcastle-upon-tyne

Woodford, James.  The secret life of wombats.  Melbourne: Text Publishing, 2001.

Library catalogue permalink: http://cat.lib.unimelb.edu.au/record=b6230685

 

 

 

 


Metal crafts, printmaking and the acquisition of a nielli print

Looking at a work of art on paper, it can be difficult to imagine the close relationship between a print, and metal craft. Yet printmaking owes much of its legacy to metal arts and this affiliation was more apparent in early western prints as many of the masters learned their art from the metal smiths, such as Albrecht Dürer who was the son of a goldsmith and was familiar with that art. In the 15th century and early 16th century many experiments and innovations in printmaking took place in the design of metal (from which printed impressions are taken). Some of these early techniques were short-lived and are now unfamiliar to 21st century audiences.

One such technique thought to have developed in Italy is nielli printing which was practiced up to the 16th century. This is technique utilises an engraved decorative design on silver in which lines are filled with ‘niello,’ a black chemical substance, which contrasts with the silver. Before niello is applied to the metalwork, the lines are filled with ink and an impression taken, and this is a neilli print. Rare examples of niello objects and their impressions are held in the British Museum. The Baillieu Library Print Collection has acquired its first example of a neilli print and like most of these impressions it is tiny work measuring only 4.2 centimetres diameter.

Nielli print

The portrait depicts Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1351-1402) who became the first Duke of Milan. While the artist of this nielli print is uncertain, the portrait was adapted from an effigy that adorned the monastery Certosa di Pavia. Another version of this effigy was engraved by Agostino Carracci for the book Cremona fedelissima città, et nobilissima colonia de Romani published in 1585.

Another substantial example of metal craft held in the Baillieu Library is the Wilson Hall presentation set organised by the Walsh Brothers. The set comprising trowel, mallet, mortar board and their box was given to Sir Samuel Wilson on 2 October 1879 by Sir Redmond Barry, on behalf of the Council of The University for use during the ceremonial laying of the memorial stone for Wilson Hall. If the ornate silver trowel from this set were to be inked, it is easier to imagine its decorative design appearing in reverse on a sheet of paper, just as nielli prints were made directly from metal objects.

Wilson Hall presentation set

Other examples from the Print Collection displaying the relationship between metal work and prints include designs for medallions and ornamental decorations.

Neptune

 

Further reading

Arthur M. Hind, Early Italian engraving: a critical catalogue with complete reproduction of all the prints described, London: Pub. for M. Knoedler, New York, by B. Quaritch, 1938-1948


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