State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 8 October 1971


‘Something to Blow About’?—the State Library of Victoria, 1856–1880

‘Altogether, I believe the cost has been little less than £100,000 for this fine library which is free to all classes of the public. All honour to the promoters and founders for their public spirit! … I have dwelt upon these details at some length, in order to show the provision that is made for the intellectual requirements of the age, in a distant colony of Great Britain; and what I have stated will prove how much Melbourne is in advance of some great cities, with larger populations, in the United Kingdom.’1 (1870). (My italics).
‘The first significant numbers of professionals reached Australia in the years of gold. They set about creating cities in their own image; but they too were builders first. They built art galleries — and filled them with pretentious reproductions of poor sculpture; libraries — and stocked them with conventionally accepted classics; cathedrals — and hired smooth comforters to preach for them; universities — and instituted the utilitarian disciplines appropriate to a growing wealthy nation. What they built were monuments to their own perspicacity and diligence, rather than temples of learning … The professional intellect was institutionalised, the creative intellect was destroyed.’2 (1965).
As these two quotations illustrate, anyone who writes about culture in a society must express his own values. This is even more inevitable if one wishes to discuss a collection of books. For one must evaluate as well as describe the collection. Dr Leonard B. Cox dedicated his careful history of the National Gallery to ‘those men and women in the Colony and State of Victoria and elsewhere, who in their own fashion and within the bounds of the tastes and ideas of their own times have contributed during the last hundred years to its National Collection’.3 (My italics). This article is an attempt to assess those tastes and ideas by examining the catalogues of the State Library of Victoria (then the Melbourne Public Library and later the Public Library of Victoria) in the years 1856–1880.4
The Library in its first twenty-four years reflected the values of the nineteenth century English ruling classes, with utilitarianism and evangelism being the most obvious influences. As was shown in the April issue of this Journal, the acquisitions policy was mainly the work of Sir Redmond Barry. But until the 1870s the Library was generally accepted on its own terms by the contemporary newspapers and periodicals and by most of its users. The Argus often praised the ‘sound judgement of the trustees’5 and exercised a ‘fostering watchfulness over the Library’;6 the Herald stated that there was not ‘an atom of rubbish or filling stuff’ in the Library, and that its users ‘did not go [there] for the purposes of temporary amusement’;7 the Age praised it profusely in the 1860s and 1870s especially for its utilitarian approach as compared to European libraries.8 There were many criticisms, but they did not go to the heart of the matter which was that the collections reflected a pompous, dogmatic, smug attitude which termed itself liberalism. There was never any wavering from this confident and self-conscious liberalism, which resulted in the purchase of the works of Tom Paine, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Cobbett and Robert Owen not because they might influence readers to critically examine their society, but because they had become ‘standards’, and therefore should be known by the citizens of Victoria. The public leaders of the time were out to build a
better England, free of the moral, social and political shortcomings of the mothercountry, but rich in its culture. So why should they have feared the conclusions of eighteenth century rationalists and nineteenth century reformers? In fact they did not buy the works of those more radical contemporary reformers which were not ‘standards’, such as those of J. F. Bray, William Lovett, John Collins and Robert Lowery.9 As will become clearer, the Library was liberal only on its own terms.
In this period the Library ‘bought the best that was available from Britain’,10 and was considered to be one of the marvels of ‘marvellous Melbourne’. Visitors raved about this temple of learning which was so ahead of its time and unique in the British colonies. It was held up as a model by newspapers in America,11 New Zealand,12 England,13 Scotland14 and the Australian colonies.15
The Romano-Corinthian building with its columns and pillars caught the eye of the nineteenth century visitor to Melbourne as much as the National Gallery of Victoria attracts the 1971 visitor. After 1870 the visitor would have seen the Portico with its eight Corinthian columns ‘designed after Venola's style’.16 Those who actually entered the building ascended two successive flights of steps, entered the vestibule or Hall of Busts and noticed rooms to the right and left filled with statues taken from the ancient and modern masters, as well as portraits and a picture gallery. But the main attraction was the Library and Reading Room on the first floor (until 1970 the Science Museum, and now returned to the Library). This room was 240 feet long, 50 feet wide and 30 feet high, and looked like an arcade with fluted Ionic columns ranged on both sides. These columns supported a gallery running around the room, and were joined to the main walls by cross walls, so that the whole room was divided into twenty-six open compartments 13 feet high. The furniture consisted of tables running down the centre of the room, and tables in the twenty-six recessed subject departments, in the Ladies’ Room, and in the galleries. The night visitor would most probably have observed that the 650 chairs were occupied, for throughout the period there were constant demands for more accommodation. Articles in journals and newspapers remarked that many had to squat on the cocoa-matting floor ‘like Turks’,17 Most visitors were amazed by the numbers using the Library and also by the lack of restrictions placed on them. Apart from signing a visitors’ book (after 1870, turnstiles were introduced),18 ‘the only discipline as respects visitors [was] but just hinted, rather than enjoined at the entrance, in the shape of ample apparatus for washing hands or face’.19 Providing he was over fourteen years of age the visitor could gain access to all books except those in the medical section, for which he had to gain the permission of the Librarian.20 There were no attendants to intervene between the reader and the books, and unlike the British Museum (the model for the Library) no letter of introduction was needed. If he wished, the user could make suggestions for the purchase of books in a suggestion book, which was not replaced by slips or cards until July 1882.21 To the gentleman traveller, the shelves appeared to contain all the works in English, French, German and Spanish which any person would require for his education and enrichment whether he were an artisan, clerk or scholar. Thus Thomas W. Knox stated that ‘no matter what the taste of a person might be in books, whether he desired a work of fiction or a treatise on science, a volume of travels or an exposition of
Hindoo philosophy, he could be accommodated without delay’. The same writer went on to agree with Anthony Trollope's view that Melbournites must be forgiven their ‘blowing about the wonders of their city’ because ‘they have something worth blowing about’.22
It is difficult to establish who used the Library. Sir Archibald Michie stated that ‘working men can walk in as easily as any other men’,23 and Dr Thomas Bride, the Librarian, affirmed that the Library had ‘all sorts and conditions of people … from Lord Rosebery or the Russian Admiral down to the humblest class in the community’.24 The Age stated that the vast majority of readers were ‘bona fide workers’ and that ‘the public pulse is immediately felt when public attention is occupied with any subjects whether the cause be the death of a military hero, an earthquake, a comet or a religious controversy’.25 The author of the first quotation cited in this article thought that ‘from their class and appearance I should imagine that those who frequent the Library consist of clerks, tradesmen and persons in easy circumstances, in a much greater proportion than that of the working classes; — working men, as in some of the defunct Mechanics' Institutions in England, not caring to avail themselves of the treasures placed within their reach, to anything like the extent that might be expected’.26 Another visitor noted that the Library was ‘largely used by the better class of artisans’, and that ‘many men studied the science of their occupation’.27 H. M. Franklyn writing in Macmillan's Magazine in March 1882 said that ‘in the evenings, especially winter, the library was very crowded, that there was silence and good order and that the classes of society represented are mainly the operative and the lower middle classes, with a fair sprinkling of the declassés’.28 More interesting is his comment that ‘the books most in demand were works of fiction, biography, history, and voyages and travels’; sporting literature such as histories of the turf were also popular.29
From such comments it seems that the bulk of the users were the lower middle classes, clerks, professional men and skilled artisans. Those wealthy Melbournites who were readers did not need to go to the Library, for their homes usually contained shelves lined with the best of eighteenth and nineteenth century literature (mainly consisting of the works described by Franklyn as being most popular in the Public Library — ‘Richardson, Smollett, Dickens, Goldsmith, Thackeray, travel and history books, music and descriptive works of science’.)30 This middle class quality of the Library is borne out by the constant references in newspapers and periodicals to the ‘greasy loafers and disreputable fainéants’ who used the Library,31 and to the dirty hands and faces of the loungers and loafers who ‘instead of flinging [their] useless limbs under the wattle trees of the Carlton or Fitzroy gardens, bestow them upon the comfortable seats of the Public Library’.32 Admittedly, in 1971 many homeless men use the State Library as a place to sleep or warm themselves. But in the 1860s and 1870s hardly a month passed without an editorial writer or letter-writer complaining of loafers and loungers who used the Library for amusement purposes rather than for the serious purposes for which it was intended. The admirers of the Library seem to have over-reacted to its possible misuse, and to have accepted the utilitarian and puritanical principles on which it was based.
Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, it was not the lower classes who wrote the articles and letters to the editors of periodicals
cals and newspapers. Some of these rather pedantic commentators attempted to evaluate the entire Library, section by section.33 The best that I can do at present is to discuss three characteristics of the collections, which in the light of contemporary criticisms and later bibliographies, seem most worthy of comment and analysis.
These three characteristics are as follows:
The collections were utilitarian and puritanical in the extreme. There was a deliberate attempt to exclude any imaginative prose work unless it had become a standard. Even then it had to pass a severe test. There was no idea that material should be collected not only because of its quality or usefulness, but also because of its possible interest to posterity as a reflection of contemporary tastes or values.
Linked to this characteristic was the failure of the Trustees and Librarians to keep up with current material. The past was emphasised at the expense of the present and the future. This was especially so in the science collections.
The Library acquired the reputation of emphasising British and European material at the expense of the Australian collections.
The first characteristic was not often noticed in the nineteenth century. In fact one critic of the collections said that the opposite was the case. ‘The Library is full of the hot novels and pernicious trash which have deluged many of the provincial libraries in England’.34 Far from being full of ‘hot novels and pernicious trash’ the Library excluded most of the popular novelists of the time. Works of respectable novelists such as Dickens, Scott, Disraeli, Charles Kingsley, Richardson, Smollett, Goldsmith, Fielding, Sterne and Thomas Love Peacock were included. The Argus rebutted a critic who asserted that Thackeray's works should be on the shelves by asserting that Thackeray did not serve ‘a serious purpose’.35 The then richly endowed Parliament Library did contain works of this author, and as a result was labelled by one critic as no better than ‘a sea-side circulating library of the latest development’.36 By 1876 Thackeray was acceptable to the Trustees, although, contrary to the Trustees’ assertion, a writer in the Imperial Review for 1882 noted that along with Scott and Dickens, his books could only be obtained by asking an attendant.37 In 1871 the Age reported that the Library contained ‘only about 300 volumes of light literature and fiction’.38
From this evidence it seems that the Trustees and Librarians were affected by the anti-fiction diatribes of mid-nineteenth century England which Richard Altick describes in his book The English Common Reader. ‘Among pessimists and optimists alike there sprang up a rigid ineffaceable association of the mass reading public with low grade fiction’.39 Altick points out that evangelists like Hannah More (who was concerned with ‘making the people's reading safe’) and utilitarians like Bentham (‘who excluded all imaginative literature from his ideal republic’) agreed that literature must be judged in terms of ‘its didactic power, its moral usefulness and its use in instructing the understanding’.40 The Melbourne Public Library was not alone in being influenced by such ideas. J. D. Lang at the opening of the Free Public Library in Sydney on 30 September 1869, said that ‘the policy of the library is to exclude fiction’, and only to ‘admit to its shelves books that were really likely to afford instruction to the public at large’.41
It is thus not surprising that the cheap
sensational novels of the nineteenth century such as the novels of James Catnach (The Black Monk, The Secret of the Grey Turrett, Almira's Curse), of Thomas Peckett Prest (Sweeney Tod), Pierce Egan (Life in London or the Adventures of Tom and Jerry), James Malcolm Rymer and G. W. M. Reynolds (The Soldier's Wife, The Bronze Soldier), were excluded. Other popular but less sensational novelists who were excluded were Charles Reade (It is Never Too Late to Mend, The Cloister and the Hearth), James Grant, Mrs Henry Wood, E. P. Roe, Miss Braddon, Thomas Hughes, Charlotte Yonge, W. H. Ains-worth and Elizabeth Gaskell.42 The Trustees could have well argued as many librarians argue today, that these novelists were available in cheap editions, and that it was not the proper function of a public reference library to supply such light novels.
This justification is not so convincing when one notes the other novels which were excluded — for example Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, which had the greatest short term sale of any book published in nineteenth century England (150,000 in six months).43 This was a deliberate omission, for the 1880 Catalogue lists three non-fiction works by the same author — Autographs of Freedom, Men of Our Time and Lady Byron Vindicated. The same rigid and rather obtuse policy was applied to Lewis Carroll (The Elementary Treatise on Determinants With their Application to Simultaneous Linear Equations and Algebraical Geometry was purchased but not Alice in Wonderland); to Herman Melville (Narrative of a Four Months Residence in the Marquesas Islands and Omoo, but none of his novels) and to many others. One finds only the non-fiction works of novelists such as George Eliot, George Sand, Henry James, Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Anthony Trollope, George Meredith, Elizabeth Gaskell, Captain Marryat, Leo Tolstoy and Charlotte Yonge. The enlightened belief of Dickens and J. F. Herschel that reading could be a means of relaxation, amusement and escape for both tired workers and the sick and the lonely44 was not shared by the men who bought the books for the Melbourne Library. Nor was the idea of purchasing literature merely because of its possible future historical value, present. Thus Catnach's many accounts of trials, William Hone and George Cruikshank's The Political House that Jack Built, Bulwer's A Letter to a Late Cabinet Minister on the Crisis, the Reverend H. W. Pullen's The Fight of Dame Europa's School and S. O. Beeton's Jon Duan were not purchased.45
Throughout this period, people who seemed to be using the Library for nonserious purposes were criticised by newspapers and by writers of letters to the editors. There were criticisms of those who spent their time reading Melbourne or London Punch, the Illustrated London News,46 the London Journal, the Family Herald, and ‘the more licentious specimens of the literature of the Elizabethan and succeeding periods’.47 In other words the puritanism, utilitarianism and distrust of ‘light’ literature of the Trustees and Librarians were shared by the newspapers and by many users.
Apart from criticisms about the lack of a students’ room where pen and ink could be used,48 and the lack of accommodation,49 the main contemporary criticism of the Library was that it was failing to keep abreast of current literature. In the case of newspapers, which were not readily available to the public, the Trustees argued that they had to be protected from injury and mutilation.50 But they made no
attempt to make available second copies of the newspapers. Unlike the libraries of Ballarat and Sandhurst, they provided neither current newspapers nor periodicals.51 Most of the respectable English journals were held by the Library but these were often two to three years old.52 Scientific journals such as the Comptes Rendus and the Transactions of the Royal Society were often six to seven years old.53 Part of the reason for these annoying timelags was that the Trustees insisted on binding the periodicals before displaying them. They placed appearance before usage.54
As was stated in the previous article in this Journal, an attempt was made to purchase all standard works in all fields published since 1840.55 A check of a list of the important works published between 1840 and 188056 shows that by 1880 many of these had been purchased — the Brownings, Hugo, Macaulay, Merimeé, Thierry, Liebig, Carlyle, Dickens, Tennyson, J. S. Mill, J. F. Herschel, Charles Kingsley, Motley, Trollope, Herbert Spencer, Livingstone, Stanley, Longfellow, F. M. Müller, Newman, Swinburne, Pasteur, Bagehot, Mommsen, William Morris, Poe, T. H. Huxley, Samuel Butler, Mrs Beeton, Leslie Stephen, Schliemann, E. A. Freeman, Lecky, Stubbs, Faraday, F. H. A. von Humboldt, Berthelot, Sir Francis Galton, Arthur Cayley, Babbage, Brewster, Professor Owen, Darwin, Renan and even Strauss's Life of Jesus. Such a list looks both impressive and comprehensive.
Yet we find that a contemporary critic stated that ‘all popular works of the day … [were] excluded’ from the Library.57 Marcus Clarke, in 1868, pointed to the ‘natural sciences’ section as not being up to date58 and at least four other critics made the same point between 1856 and 1869.59 The fact was that as with their treatment of novels and novelists, the Trustees were never adventurous enough to purchase contemporary works until they had been accepted by the middle and upper classes. For example, if we take a list of works that have been banned through the ages we find that, as with the lists of fiction, most of the works published before 1800 appear in the 1880 catalogue, but very few after that time.60 Those authors included were Ovid, Apuleius, Boccaccio, Erasmus, Luther, Rabelais, Montaigne, Tasso, Marston, Descartes, Roger Williams, La Fontaine, Moliére, Pascal, Locke, Racine, Defoe, Swift, Swedenborg (almost everything he wrote), Richardson, Voltaire, Fielding, Rousseau, Diderot, Sterne, Kant, Goldsmith, Paine, Schiller, Herder, Shelley, Balzac, Darwin and Swinburne. As could be expected, The Thousand and One Nights, Casanova's Mémoires and the Marquis de Sade's works were excluded. But more interesting exclusions were Babeufs Le Tribun du Peuple, Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Dumas’ plays and the works of Marx, Stendhal, Baudelaire, Ibsen and Flaubert. In addition, such widely read authors as Frederick Hebbel, Gautier, de Tocqueville, Sully Prudhomme, Verlaine, Zola, Thomas Hardy, L. M. Alcctt, Rimbaud, J. R. Green, Mary Baker Eddy, Mallarmé and ‘Ouida’ were either partially or totally excluded. It is also to be noted that, as with Thackeray, Darwin, Spencer,61 Thoreau and Emerson62 were not purchased until years after their publication.
By the late 1870s the criticisms had become louder and more continuous; hence many more contemporary works were purchased. Sir Redmond Barry, who ‘boldly expressed his intention of making [the Library] at least the second best … in the world to the British Museum’63 who boasted that the Shakespearean collection was the fourth largest in the world,64 and who proclaimed that he based his orders
on the lists of authors and works cited in such works as ‘Alison's History of Europe, Buckle on Civilization, Rawlinson's Herodotus’, and in the works of Burton, Gibbon, Hume and Montaigne,65 was accused of bibliomania, ‘Gibbon-mania’, ‘Bible-mania’, ‘Shakespeare-mania’ and neglecting modern science and modern literature.66 It was beginning to be realised that the Library suffered from lack of real selection, and ‘from the want of an infusing mind like Panizzi’ of the British Museum.67
Looking back, it is significant that the French collections were usually described as being magnificent and comprehensive68 (though most of the works were in the original French only),69 while the American collections were described as being ‘a miserable section70 and as ‘a half and half affair selected with no judgement, indeed not selected at all, pitched together anyhow in a couple of years’.71 Even more significant was the emphasis and priority given to the classics and to British and Western culture at the expense of Australia and its neighbours.
Almost without exception, all contemporary critics contrasted the treatment given to the beautifully bound Greek and Roman classics in their many editions just to the right of the entrance where they occupied a whole section, with the Australian collections which were arranged in a higgledy-piggledy fashion in the gallery in a temperature which often reached 90° on hot nights and which was described as being a good place for suicides.72 The Austral Review critic stated: ‘Let the Greek Dryasdusts stifle, but not our Australian youth anxious for knowledge of their native land’.73
There is no doubting the superior physical locations given the British and classical collections. But what of the charge made by the Age in 1879 that ‘the colonial department is notoriously incomplete and that of our own colony … the most meagre’?74 A sample check of Ferguson's Bibliography of Australia reveals that up to 1869 (when the Library received Legal Deposit rights to Victorian material) it purchased most of the serious works published in Victoria, while not going out of its way to chase fugitive material. In the period under discussion, they followed the same policy with regard to books published in England about Victoria and the Australian colonies, but were less interested in any but well publicised material emanating from the other colonies.
At the time, the arguments about the Trustees’ Australian policy were expressed in far more definite terms. The editor of the Herald sympathised with the complaint of most Melbourne booksellers that only a small portion of the books were bought from the Melbourne book trade.75 Samuel Mullen wrote that he supplied books to the Melbourne Public Library76 and H. T. Dwight stated that he had a standing order from the Trustees to supply all colonial publications.77 Dwight's statement was in reply to a critic who had stated that the ‘Melbourne Public Library is not buying all works relating to Victoria and New South Wales’.78 As it turned out, the books which were said to be missing (‘Home's Prometheus, Hearn on the Government of England, Barton's Poets and Prose Writers of New South Wales, Farjeon's Grif, Basset Dickson's Tasmanian Poems, Goodrich's Angel Beckoned and M'Crae's aboriginal works’) were at the binders.79 George Robertson was another bookseller who complained about the treatment given to the Melbourne book trade.80 Yet, although there are some puzzling exceptions, the Trustees did buy most of the Australian works published by Robertson. Most of
these exceptions were novels, either Australian or reprints of English titles. Surprisingly Adam Lindsay Gordon's Sea Spray and Smoke Drift (1867), Rolf Boldrewood's Ups and Downs and some of Marcus Clarke's works do not appear in the 1880 catalogue.81
It was reported in 1868 that the Librarian, Augustus Tulk, was being sent to Sydney ‘to make good as far as possible the deficiencies of our Public Library in the matter of what may be termed Australian Literature’.82 Yet in 1870 an electrician complained that the Trustees, after ten months, still had not responded to his suggestion that they obtain the charts of surveys in Northern and Western Australia so that the people could learn about the projected telegraph lines over the continent.83 In 1874 a critic accused the Trustees of refusing to buy Strode's copy of the early volumes of The Port Phillip Gazette so that they were bought by the British Museum at the same price. The same critic also complained that when books, prints or pictures were offered to the Trustees, there were delays of weeks or months, and ‘the would be vendor [was] treated with depreciatory comment and scant courtesy’84 Inevitably the ‘quixotic enterprise’ of buying all the works which Gibbon had consulted was contrasted with the Trustees’ attitude to Australian material.85
The Library was very definitely a British library. For example, Barry often stated that he did not have much time for mere ‘literary curiosities’. Yet in 1868 it was reported that the only exception to the utilitarian principles of the Library was the ‘Queen's Book’ which was preserved under a glass shade and attracted hundreds every day.86 This was the Addresses and Speeches of the Late Prince Consort, with an inscription in the Queen's handwriting on the fly-leaf: ‘To the Melbourne Public Library. In recollection of the greatest and best of men. From the beloved Prince's Broken Hearted Widow …’87 (1863). The Library always maintained close contact with the Queen. She was delighted to receive the 1861 catalogue, and in 1884 presented an autographed copy of More Leaves From the Journal of Life in the Highlands From 1862 to 1882. Sir Henry Loch stated that Her Majesty ‘desires that this book may be placed in the Public Library in Melbourne as evidence of Her Majesty's interest in that institution and of Her Majesty's belief that this record will not fail to be appreciated by Her subjects in Australia’.88 When the Trustees presented a gift to Prince Alfred, it was not an Australian work but a collection of Biographical Charts of Italian Painters, prepared by Sir Redmond Barry.89
In 1859 in a letter to Childers, Barry wrote: ‘The Beotian (sic) herd around us seems but little impressed as yet with the importance of the object you are engaged in carrying out but there is hope that as our numbers increase, they may become sensible of its value. The education of the adult Victorian is necessary for this and the Library will do much for us in that respect’.90 In the same year Sir Henry Barkly referred to the Library as the People's Palace of Victoria.91
Unfortunately such ideals were only partially realized. The criticisms of Sir Redmond grew even harsher in the year before his death. The Age said that he had developed a tendency to regard the Public Library ‘as a kind of appanage to his own drawing room, in which his peculiar partialities might find a pleasant field for exercise’92 as a result the Library was ‘modelled too much on the old world’.93 Only two months after the opening of the Library, R. H. Horne had said that it was
‘too much of a nobleman's and gentleman's library’.94 Three years later, a ‘Collingwood Observer’ wrote that it was like ‘a magnificent library of a private mansion, not an institution for the people’, and that the motto of this ‘costly ornament’ should be ‘elegance not use’.95
I think that I have shown that there is enough evidence, to at least sympathize with this last remark. Even the tremendous growth of the La Trobe Library collections has not quite erased this predominant image imprinted in the years 1856–1880.
David McVilly


The newspaper references in this article were obtained from the Newspaper Cuttings Relating to the State Library of Victoria (call number * f027.4 V66N). As these volumes of cuttings are in chronological order and are available in the State Library, I have not attempted to trace precise dates where they are missing.


Victoria, the British El Dorado or Melbourne in 1869 by a colonist of twenty years standing and late member of a colonial legislature (London, 24, 1879), p. 82. 25.


Turner, Ian, ‘Intellectuals in Australian Life’, Overlaid, No. 33, Dec. 1965, pp. 30–32.


Cox, Leonard B., The National Gallery of Victoria 1861–1968, a search for a collection (National Gallery of Victoria, 1971), Dedication.


The Catalogue of the Melbourne Public Library for 1861 (Melbourne, 1861). The Catalogue of the Public Library of Victoria (Melbourne, 1880). 32.


Argus, 31 Dec. 1859, editorial


Argus, 2 July 1860.


Herald, 28 May 1860, editorial.


E.g. Age, 27 May 1861 and Age, 17 June 1871.


References to these writers are made in Tholf-sen, Trygve R. ‘The Intellectual Origins of Mid-Victorian Stability’, Political Science Quarterly, Mar. 1971, pp. 57–92.


Briggs, Asa, Victorian Cities (London, 1963), p. 304.


New York Times, 14 Oct. 1869.


New Zealand Herald, Jan. 1880.


Pall Mall Gazette, 1871


Glasgow Daily Herald, 27 Oct. 1871.


Sydney Morning Herald, 1 June 1859 and South Australian Register, 17, Dec. 1880.


Daily Telegraph, 30 Aug. 1870.


Melbourne Punch, 1870.


Argus, 30 Dec. 1870.


Michie, Sir Archibald, Readings in Melbourne; With an Essay on the Resources and Prospects of Victoria For the Emigrant and Uneasy Classes (London, 1879), p. 203. 45.


Report of the Trustees of the Public Library, Museum and National Gallery of Victoria, 1870–71, p. 12.


Age, 10 July 1882.


Knox, Thomas W., The Boy Travellers in Australasia. Adventures of Two Youths in a Journey to the Sandwich, Marquesas, Society, Samoan and Feejee Islands, and Through the Colonies of New Zealand, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia (Melbourne, 1971) (Originally written 1888), pp. 459–63.


Michie, op. cil., p. 203.


Age, 6 June 1885.




Victoria the British El Dorado, pp. 81–2.


Australasian, Mar. 1869.


Franklyn, H. Mortimer, ‘The Melbourne Public Library’, Macmillan's Magazine, Mar. 1882, p. 379.




Bell, Agnes Paton, Melbourne, John Batman's Village (Melbourne, 1965), p. 100.


Franklyn, op. cit., p. 379.


Herald, 5 Feb. 1863, Herald, 17 Jan. 1862 (editorial) and Argus, 14 Sept. 1870.


For example, a pompous article titled ‘Our Library’ in the Journal of Australasia, vol. 1, July to Dec. 1856, pp. 242-5; an equally pompous but more pedantic series of articles in the Argus, 9, 18, 27 Oct. and 5 Nov. 1868, and a more sensible article in The Austral Review, Aug. 1877, pp. 1–4.


Argus, 9 Oct. 1868.


Argus, 31 Dec. 1859, editorial.


Argus, 31 Dec. 1860, letter to the editor.


Imperial Review, No. 7, June 1882, p. 61.


Age, 17 June 1871.


Altick, Richard D., The English Common Reader (Phoenix edition, 1963), p. 64.


Ibid., pp. 76, 133.


Sydney Mail, 2 Oct. 1869.


See the lists in Altick, op. cit., pp. 383–4, and Leavis, Q. D., Fiction and the Reading Public (London, 1932), pp. 330–35.


Altick, op. cit., p. 306.


Ibid., pp. 94, 136.


See the list of nineteenth century literature, Ibid., pp. 381–2.


Argus, 4 July 1859.


Daily Telegraph, 7 Sept. 1869.


Australian Medical Journal, Apr. 1861, pp. 133–5 and Australasian, June 1866.


Age, 23 Aug. 1873.


Argus, 5 June 1869.


Argus, 7 Jan. 1868.


Age, 28 Jan. 1873.


Argus, 6 Mar. 1868 and Daily Telegraph, 10 Mar 1874.


Argus, 7 Jan. 1868.


Melbourne Public Library, Letterbooks 1853–1860. Letter to Agent-General, 5 Dec. 1853.


The list used was The Teach Yourself Encyclopaedia of Dates and Events (London, 1968).


Argus, 7 Apr. 1862.


Australasian, 16 May 1868.


Herald, Apr. 1856; Journal of Australasia, vol. 1, p. 245; Argus, 9 Oct. 1868; Australasian, 2 Mar. 1869.


The list used was Haight, Anne Lyon, Banned Books, 2 ed. (New York, 1955).


Age, 27 Jan. 1879.


Neither appears in the 1861 catalogue.


Daily Telegraph, 22 Jan. 1879.




Catalogue of the Public Library of Victoria, 1880, vol. 1, p. xxxi.


Age, 27 Jan. 1879.


Imperial Review, No. 7, Jan. 1882, p. 60.


Argus, 5 Nov. 1868.


Age, 27 Jan. 1879.


Argus, 27 Oct. 1868.


Austral Review, Aug. 1877, p. 1.


See Herald, 2 May 1879; Age, 20 May 1872; Leader, 2 Apr. 1870.


Austral Review, op. cit., p. 2.


Age, 27 Jan. 1879.


Herald, 20 Aug. 1861, also 21, 22 Aug.


Herald, 21 Aug. 1861.


Argus, 25 June 1867.


Argus, 18 June 1867.


Argus, 26 June 1867.


Herald, 22 Aug. 1861.


See Holroyd, John., George Robertson of Melbourne 1825–1898, Pioneer Bookseller and Publisher (Robertson and Mullens, 1968). This work lists the works published by Robertson in the period 1856–80.


Argus, 24 Dec. 1868.


Argus, 22 Apr. 1870.


Daily Telegraph, 10 Mar. 1874.




Argus, 18 Oct. 1868.


Argus, 14 Oct. 1863.


Argus, 22 Sept. 1884.


Age, 4 Jan. 1868.


Barry to Childers, 15 Mar. 1859, in the Barry Papers, La Trobe Library, letter 599/la. (The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines Boeotian as meaning ‘of Boeotia, dull, stupid; a native of Boeotia; a “thick-head”.)


Catalogue of the Public Library of Victoria, 1880, vol. 1, p. xiv.


Age, 27 Jan. 1879.


Herald, 19 Sept. 1879.


Herald, Apr. 1856.


Letter in 1859 to unidentified newspaper, in Newspaper Cuttings Collection.