Book Lover, George McArthur, and His Bequest to the University
George McArthur (1842-1903) was born in Scotland and immigrated to Victoria with his family in 1852, moving to Maldon two years later at the height of the Gold Rush. Bookish from an early age and later a keen traveller, he collected widely, including early printed books, religious texts and Scottish poetry, as well as material from Australia’s early colonial times such as newspapers, handbills, miner’s licences and artefacts.
Being friendly with, and impressed by one John Walter Gregory, Professor of Geology at the University of Melbourne, McArthur decided to leave his book collection to the University. His bequest, which at the time in 1903, represented nearly ten percent of the Library’s total book stock, later became the basis for the Library’s Special Collections. An exhibition, ‘The Baker of Maldon’, commemorating 100 years since this significant bequest, was held in 2003. The catalogue essay describing McArthur’s interesting life can be read in the Special Collections reading room, 3rd floor, Baillieu Library. See http://cat.lib.unimelb.edu.au/search/t?SEARCH=baker+of+Maldon.
Pictured: Title page of Sir Walter Raleigh, History of the World, London: Printed for Walter Burre, 1614. From the George McArthur Bequest, 1903. Special Collections, University of Melbourne Library.