A Paradise of Flowers

Frontispiece from John Parkinson, Paradisi in sole: Paradisus terrestris, or, A garden of all sorts of pleasant flowers which our English ayre will permitt to be noursed vp …, [London]: printed by Humfrey Lownes and Robert Young at the signe of the Starre on Bread-Street Hill, 1629. Special Collections, Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne.

The book from which this image comes is an example of the development of natural history illustration. It was one of the first English books to show attractive images of flowers and plants, rather than showing diagrams of plants as medicinal items.

La Mama Exhibition

Baillieu Library, ground floor, 14 February to 8 April 2012

La Mama, named after the off-Broadway theatre in New York, was established in Carlton, Melbourne by Betty Burstall in 1967. La Mama was established as a venue for avant-garde theatre, music, poetry readings, improvisations and screenings of new films. Liz Jones has been artistic director and administrator of the theatre since 1977.

The display of items from the La Mama Collection, held at the University of Melbourne Archives, will showcase the unique place La Mama holds in Australian theatre. The vital energy both on stage and behind the scenes is seen in correspondence, play appraisals, and photographs relating to performances by Cate Blanchett and Stelarc, the scripts of David Williamson, and linocut posters by Tim Burstall.

Above: Stage set illustration for Stelarc’s performance ‘Event for Obsolete Body,’ 1980, La Mama Collection (1983.0065 – 1989.0072), File 11, Box 1, University of Melbourne Archives.

Treasures Revealed

Experience some of the most prized possessions held in the University of Melbourne Library with ‘Treasures Revealed’, available free for iPhone, iPad and Android.

Australiana includes convicts, gold diggers, the 1854 Melbourne directory; Rare Books includes a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, Book of Hours and Middle Eastern Manuscripts; Prints include Goya, Hogarth, Callot, Lindsay and Piranesi. And more.

See: http://apps.toura.com/university-of-melbourne-library/treasures-revealed

Migration Tales

This image, from a pamphlet by Isaac Thomas, held in Special Collections, is about the fictional Morgan Bach who wishes to leave Wales to seek his fortune in Australia, much to the despair of his mother. In ballad form, the verses are a conversation between mother and son, in which she tries to talk him out of his plans. As much as it pains him, however, he will not be moved. A subsequent ballad by Thomas details Morgan Bach’s later return to Wales as a rich man, but his mother does not recognise him (this pamphlet is held by the National Library of Australia).

The performing and selling of ballads was very popular entertainment in 18th and 19th-century Wales. In the latter, many ballads written in the industrial south of Wales related to Australia, suggesting a preoccupation with emigrating to escape poverty and start afresh in a new country. The Thomas ballads about Morgan and his mother were two of the most popular and were printed in many editions, many of which survive to this day.

Above: Isaac Thomas, of Aberdare, Morgan Bach a’i fam yn ymddiddan yn nghylch myned i Australia, [Publisher] Caernarfon: argraffwyd gan H. Humphreys, 184-?, Special Collections, University of Melbourne.

A translation of this ballad is also available in Special Collections: Isaac Thomas, of Aberdare, Morgan Bach in Australia: Reproductions of two Welsh migration ballads from the 1850s, with translations and introduction by Geraint Evans, Melbourne: Ancora Press, 2010.

Rare Rocks

The Earth Sciences Rare Book Collection is an important research collection of rare and early geological and palaeontological books, including strong holdings of early palaeontological works in English, French and German. About 65 per cent of the items are the only known copy in Australia. The collection is socially and historically significant as it represents the development of the discipline of earth sciences at the University of Melbourne, and it is connected to significant geologists such as Frederick McCoy and Ernest Skeats, early and eminent professors in their field at the University. Many of the books are beautiful items in themselves with embossed leather covers and fine illustrations. This engraving is ‘Volcanic crater near Frankenhousen in Lower Hesse’, in Rudolph Erich Raspe, An account of some German volcanos, and their productions: With a new hypothesis of the prismatical basaltes, established upon facts: Being an essay of physical geography for philosophers and miners, London: Printed for Lockyer Davis, Holborn, printer to the Royal Society, 1776, plate II, facing p. 38. Earth Sciences Library Rare Books Collection, Special Collections, University of Melbourne.

Books from the collection may be viewed in the Special Collections Reading Room in the Baillieu Library. For more information see www.lib.unimelb.edu.au/collections/earth/rarebooks

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