Join Spanish scholar David Andrés Fernández as he discusses some of the Spanish manuscript processionals we hold. David is a Visiting Scholar here to investigate recent manuscript acquisitions with one rumoured to be related to another manuscript already in our collection. Come along and find out whether the rumour is true.

When: 11am-12noon, Monday 15 February, 2016
Where: Seminar Room, Level 2, Fisher Library, F03

Event details

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New post on the Striking Chords blog:
https://strikingchordsblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/03/restoring-the-rare-music-collection/

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This exhibition is a celebration of the University Library’s Rare Music Collection, on the occasion of its relocation from the Conservatorium Library to Fisher Rare Books & Special Collections.

When the NSW State Conservatorium of Music was officially opened on 6 May 1915, its stated aims were “providing tuition of a standard at least equal to that of the leading European Conservatoriums”. It would seem logical then that the Rare Music collection of Australia’s first dedicated music education institution be concentrated around two main cultural waypoints: the European classical music tradition that the Conservatorium sought to transmit, and the Australian musical culture that developed from this foundation.

These two areas of strength provide natural entry points for exploring this varied and intriguing collection. They provide the framework for this exhibition, the aim of which is to showcase not only the objects themselves, but the continuation of their stories through ongoing scholarship and engagement.

For images, articles, discussion and commentary, please visit our Striking Chords blog:
https://strikingchordsblog.wordpress.com/

This is the fifth in a series of companion posts to the current Fisher Library exhibition Circumstances of Interest: Travel Diaries, Journals and Logs from Rare Books & Special Collections.

On December 30th 1871, Louisa Jenner wrote an account of Christmas on board the Asia, the ship on which she, her husband and two young children had spent the past three months. By the time she wrote this entry, she had already reached her final destination of Melbourne, where they were met by relatives.

Louisa's account of Christmas on board the ship is characteristically humorous; she describes early-morning carol singing, and a Christmas tree which delighted her children. Particularly amusing is her recounting of the antics of the young ladies on board; apparently the captain was the recipient of several kisses under the mistletoe.


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From Diary of a voyage from England to Australia on the ship 'Asia', 1871-1872 / Louisa Jenner (RB Add. Ms. 393 Deane)

This is the fourth in a series of companion posts to the current Fisher Library exhibition Circumstances of Interest: Travel Diaries, Journals and Logs from Rare Books & Special Collections.

The book of watercolours that forms part of Evelyn and Charles Nicholson's record of their honeymoon journey to
Australia includes many illustrations of Australian landscapes.This week's (mostly pictorial) post features some early views of Sydney, as captured by Evelyn and Charles in 1897.

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From book of watercolour paintings / Evelyn and Charles Nicholson, accompanying Diary of a trip to Australia, c.1897 / Evelyn Nicholson (RB Supp. Ms. 28).

This is the third in a series of companion posts to the current Fisher Library exhibition Circumstances of Interest: Travel Diaries, Journals and Logs from Rare Books & Special Collections.

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From Log of a voyage around the world in the years 1890-1891.Vol. 1: England to Australia (London to Melbourne) round the Cape of Good Hope in the clipper ship 'Sobraon' / Thomas Parkin (Bax Collection).


Besides keeping written journals, drawing and painting were equally popular ways for travellers to record the scenery and events unfolding around them, as demonstrated in the above photograph from Thomas Parkin's journal of his round-the-world voyage. The man with the easel in the centre is none other than Parkin himself, sketching a 'heavy rain squall in The Doldrums' (a colloquial term for a notoriously calm area around the Equator, where sailing ships could be trapped for weeks on end due to the lack of wind).

Thomas Parkin's journals of his round the world voyage are perhaps more akin to scrapbooks than traditional diaries; they document his travels through text, photographs and pasted-in items of ephemera, as well as sketches of vessels, objects and scenery, such as the below pen miniatures.

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From Log of a voyage around the world in the years 1890-1891/ Thomas Parkin (Bax Collection).


Sketches and illustrations, ranging from faint pencil outlines to accomplished watercolour paintings, appear in many of the travel records featured in Circumstances of Interest. Louisa Jenner, for instance, tried her hand at a pencil sketch of the Cape de Verde coastline, depicted below. This was one of several prominent landmarks on the ‘Great Circle’ route, taken by most sailing ships that travelled from England to Australia in the latter half of the 19th century, and described in most of the diaries featured in this exhibition. Vessels taking this route sailed down the coast of South Africa and around the Cape of Good Hope, before turning east at about 50 degrees latitude in the Southern Ocean, and using the strong prevailing westerly winds known as the ‘Roaring Forties’ to propel them to Australia.

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From Diary of a voyage from England to Australia on the ship 'Asia', 1871-1872 / Louisa Jenner (RB Add. Ms. 393 Deane)

While some passenger's artistic efforts are limited to quick sketches in their diaries, some clearly took their art quite seriously. Evelyn Nicholson's account of her honeymoon voyage to Australia includes a large velvet-bound volume of watercolours, painted by herself and her husband Charles, of the places encountered along the way. The below painting of Sydney is one of these.

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From book of watercolour paintings accompanying Diary of a trip to Australia, c.1897 / Evelyn Nicholson (RB Supp. Ms. 28).

William (‘Billy’) Lang, son of the Rev. John Dunmore Lang, was another traveller who chose to record the highlights of his journey in pictorial form. Included in Circumstances of Interest is a sketchbook belonging to William, who made the journey to Australia with his family in 1849 at the age of 15, along with approximately 270 English and Scottish migrants (as part of his father's Protestant migration scheme).

An inscription on the rear endpaper records some particulars of the voyage: ‘William Lang, North Atlantic Ocean, November 1849, On Board the Ship Clifton, 867 Ton Register’. The pencilled text is surrounded by what can best be described as doodles: faint sketches of boats, animals and flowers, and, endearingly, numerous practice signatures.

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From Sketch book, c. 1849-54 /William Lang (Lang Collection).

It appears that the sketchbook provided a source of amusement for William during the three-month voyage. He passed the time composing coloured pencil sketches of the scenery encountered along the way, including the coastline of Trinidad, Martin Bay Rocks, and Kent’s Group of Islands (in the Bass Strait).

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From Sketch book, c. 1849-54 /William Lang (Lang Collection).

The title page of William's sketchbook bears an inscription to the boy from his art teacher at the high school that he attended in Glasgow, dated October 1849, just before he departed for Australia: ‘With best wishes for his happiness’. Tragically, William' died only five years later at the age of 19 after a lengthy period of illness, apparently induced through overwork in a post as a bank clerk in Brisbane.

Getting up to no good

19 October, 2015

This is the second in a series of companion posts to the current Fisher Library exhibition Circumstances of Interest: Travel Diaries, Journals and Logs from Rare Books & Special Collections.

Three months into a voyage between England and Australia, an unidentified diarist wrote:

‘'the sea is very still. There is nothing to do but sit about. The books are all read that the passengers had with them…not an hour passes without a row…the children on board are the only ones who seem satisfied with their life on board’.
-Diary of a voyage from England to Australia on board S.S. Haverton, January-April 1884.(RB Add.Ms.285).

His journal entries tell of a long, uncomfortable and frustratingly slow voyage, plagued by engine trouble and uncooperative weather. It appears that he traveled in second class, sharing a cabin with 100 other passengers: ‘Jews, German, Poles, Scotch, Irish and English’. In such a crowded environment, it seems that the escalating boredom became a somewhat destructive force. In the below entry, he describes the frustration of being cooped up inside the cabin during a period of heavy rain, which apparently drove a passenger in a nearby berth to set his own bed alight.

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From Diary of a voyage from England to Australia on board S.S. Haverton, January-April 1884.(RB Add.Ms.285).

Incidences of theft and fights in the second class cabins were frequent, increasingly so as the voyage progressed. Particularly dramatic was a raid on the bakehouse by 7 men, in which 46 loaves, a goose, some mutton and a pie were stolen. Food was a precious resource, and emotions surrounding it apparently ran high; here, the diarist describes a fight between two men over a piece of pudding.

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From Diary of a voyage from England to Australia on board S.S. Haverton, January-April 1884.(RB Add.Ms.285)

James Murgatroyd describes a similar predicament for second-class travellers, almost 30 years earlier in 1856. He matter-of-factly recounts numerous fist fights, including two involving the cook and head steward, and one between two men over some ladies on board. Even the animals on board were at loggerheads, it seems; below, he describes a fight between a dog and a pig.

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From Diary, c. 1856/James Murgatroyd. (RB Add.Ms. 192)

According to James, consuming 'bottles of Grogg' was another popular way to make the time go faster. This frequently resulted in wild scenes like that described below, key phrases from which include 'bottle of Wiskey [sic] in his trousers' and 'began to make water against one of the Births [berths]'.

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From Diary, c. 1856/James Murgatroyd. (RB Add.Ms. 192)

Playing pranks on one another appears to have been a favourite pastime for James and his circle of acquaintances. While this may have provided considerable amusement for the pranksters, the fear of retribution apparently took its toll, with James noting that 'you dare not sleep a moment for fear of a prank being played with you, you must keep a good look out'. He himself fell victim to several pranks, like the one described below involving a string being tied to his leg.

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From Diary, c. 1856/James Murgatroyd. (RB Add.Ms. 192)

This particular style of prank must have been all the rage at the time, as James describes at least two more involving strings or ropes being attached to various parts of his body. Other pranks recounted (somewhat gleefully) by James include drenching two ladies with buckets of water, and hurling an object at an unsuspecting man in the dining room, 'upsetting his dinner'. According to his own accounts, James was remarkably adept at derailing would-be 'larks' directed at him. It is also entirely possible, however, that he was somewhat selective in his recording of these incidents.