Binding of The Summer Cloud from Louise Dyer's Personal Library, EOLA LB132

LHD’s Personal Library (EOLA LB 001-257)

Louise Hanson-Dyer’s personal library consists of 257 books  on a very broad range of subjects. These include language studies and reference books, mainly in French, Italian, Spanish and Polish; religion and philosophy, with a focus on Christianity; theatre studies covering works from Greek classics through English medieval plays and Shakespeare to Strindberg and Paul Claudel; art history incorporating Byzantine, Renaissance and Impressionist studies with a leaning toward Australian art, primarily Sidney Nolan; and national histories, principally of Australia but also of the Americas and various European states.

Almost one third of the library contains personal inscriptions.The majority are from authors, poets and musicians, clearly showing the respect and gratitude that LHD attracted throughout her life. Darius Milhaud, on the publication of a catalogue of his complete works, wrote ‘à Mrs Dyer Hanson souvenir de son ami Milhaud Paris Dec 1949’. The poet Abel Doysié inscribed ‘à Mrs James Dyer, qui anime l’amour sacré de l’art, les paroles avant la musique, en respectueux homage’, and in a dedication from Australia: ‘For Mrs. Dyer, from one of the Australians she loves to encourage, Henrietta Drake Brockman, August 1934.’

LHD’s most extensive range of volumes concerns music and poetry. The latter contain Tudor, Georgian, Japanese and English poets, and many French writers such as Pierre de Ronsard, Apollinaire and Paul Valéry. She also championed Australian poets, with a number of collections by John Shaw Neilson. The texts on music are the most numerous, comprising biographies of Lully, Rameau, Elgar, Holst, Bax, Ravel and Grieg, among others. There are study scores of works by Debussy and Jean Rivier, histories of the piano and harpsichord, dictionaries of music and musicians, and works on criticism, theory, aesthetics and psychology by authors such as Frank Howes and Irving Schwerké.

Fiction interested her too with many works by French authors such as André Gide, Jean Cocteau, Marcel Proust and Colette. There are natural history texts on marine science, horticulture and (of course) the lyre-bird, and books on geography and tourism. Biographies include those of Napoleon, Disraeli, Katherine Mansfield, French novelists and Australia’s ‘Who’s Who’. More broadly, non-fiction works cover cooking; accounts of WW 2; short story writing and histories of the Russian ballet and the waltz.

A text that represents the breadth of LHD’s personal interests is The Rise of Music in the Ancient World, East and West by Curt Sachs [Eola Lb 035. London: Dent 1944]. Sachs was an eminent musicologist and one of the founders of modern organology. In this comprehensive, pioneering book, he studies the global evolution of music, beginning with the ecstatic singing and Shaman songs of pre-history, then moving to more regulated forms in Egypt, East Asia, India, Greece, Rome, the Middle East, and Europe. The author considers comparative musicology, melodic styles, rhythm and instrumental music, polyphony, musical systems in general, along with the concepts of scales, melody and rhythm, and notation. He further explores India’s Vedic chants and ragas, the early modes of Greece and Rome, the influence of the music of Islam, concluding with a look at medieval tonality and the divergence between European vocal and instrumental styles.

Images: Bespoke binding and title page of The Summer Cloud by Yone Noguchi (1906) from Louise Hanson-Dyer’s Personal Library, EOLA LB 132