State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 82 Spring 2008



Although I Took over from John Barnes as Editor of the La Trobe Journal at the end of last year, this is the first issue for which I have had sole responsibility. Greg Kratzmann guest edited number 81 and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Greg for the outstanding job he did in both commissioning the articles and then seeing them through the press.
This issue contains a mixture of articles with three mini-themes running throughout: one on Antarctica, the second and third on two formidable Melbourne figures, Stephen Murray-Smith and Redmond Barry.
The issue opens with Tom Griffiths' 2007 Stephen Murray-Smith Memorial Lecture, 'The Cultural Challenge of Antarctica', delivered at the State Library last November. This annual lecture commemorates Stephen Murray-Smith's contribution to Australian intellectual life and aims to promote research and debate in the broad areas of his interest and influence. Tom's book, Slicing the Silence: voyaging to Antarctica, recently won the non-fiction category prize in the 2008 NSW Premier's Literary Awards. His lecture is followed by an assessment of Murray-Smith's legacy by his friend and colleague, John McLaren. The issue also contains a short piece on cartoonist Alex Gurney by Vane Lindesay, himself a noted black-and-white artist, and also a very old friend of both Stephen Murray-Smith and John McLaren. All three had a long association with Overland, the radical nationalist magazine founded by Stephen Murray-Smith in 1954.
Continuing the Antarctic theme is an article by library staff member Andrew McConville on the diaries of Keith Jack kept while stranded for months on end with nine companions at Ross Station during Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914–1917. Some of Jack's outstanding glass lantern photographs taken during the expedition are also featured in the journal. Antarctica and its opposite pole, the Arctic, along with the snow covered Himalayas, are represented in Chris Elmore's article on the Vic Spitzer Collection of mountaineering books donated to the library in 2006.
Redmond Barry was a dominant figure in Melbourne legal and library circles in the second half of the nineteenth century. Add side whiskers to Stephen Murray-Smith and he could have easily played the lead part in a play on the life of Barry. And it would certainly have been interesting to watch the two men debating an issue on opposite sides. Although Barry would not have liked Murray-Smith's radical politics, he would have been impressed with Murray-Smith's contribution to education and commitment to free libraries.
There are two articles in this issue on books from Redmond Barry's library, dispersed at public auction in 1881. The first, by Fiona Salisbury, looks at some 46 books formerly belonging to Barry and now housed at St Mary's and Newman colleges at the University of Melbourne. The other piece is by Shane \Carmody, a member of the senior staff management
team of the library and a regular contributor to the La Trobe Journal, on the annotations by Barry on two books now held in the State Library.
In 2007 Professor A. G. L. Shaw, a long time supporter of the Library, donated funding to support fellowships at the State Library to enable honours and first year post-graduate students to undertake a concentrated period of research utilizing the rich collections of the library. Amongst the first recipients of the A. G. L. Shaw Summer Fellowships was Spiridoula Demetriou and the fruits of her research on Philhellenism and the creation of modern Greece are published in this issue.
Barrett Reid worked at the State Library from 1952 until his retirement and is the person most responsible for establishing in the nineteen-sixties and seventies the system of free public libraries throughout Victoria, something that would have endeared him to Sir Redmond Barry. But again, his politics would have not, for poet and writer Reid also had a long association with Stephen Murray-Smith's Overland, including taking over as editor after Stephen's untimely death in 1988. Reid features here as a contributor to the graffiti in the dome of the State Library which Marg McCormack chronicles.
Issue number 82 of the La Trobe Journal concludes with a bibliography of Stephen Murray-Smith's writings on his beloved Kent Islands and Bass Strait compiled by his son, David Murray-Smith.
John Arnold