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Category: Book of the Month

Australia at war: A winter record made by Will Dyson on the Somme and at Ypres during the campaigns of 1916 and 1917; with an introduction by G. K. Chesterton, 1918

This month Rare Books & Special Collections pays tribute to those engaged in military service, past and present, by taking a closer look at Lieutenant Will Dyson’s book, Australia at war. The ninth of eleven children, Dyson was born in 1880 at Alfredton, a suburb of Ballarat, Victoria. Though largely self-taught as an artist, he […]

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Monograph of the Paradiseidae, or birds of paradise and Ptilonorhynchidae, or bower-birds. R Bowdler Sharpe (1891-1898)

Though rarely afforded the attention of his contemporary John Gould, Richard Bowdler Sharpe was an accomplished ornithologist in his own right, and his contribution to the field was nothing short of astounding.  He was born in London in 1847 and cared for by his aunt who kept a preparatory school at Brighton.  Sharpe passed three […]

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Views in the city of Adelaide. George John Freeman and Edward James Wivell (1874)

The Views of the city of Adelaide is a massive album, measuring almost 130 cm wide when open, containing 29 photographs.  Published in 1874, its sepia prints depict some of the city’s grandest buildings and beautifully capture people going about their daily affairs.  With photography by George Freeman and Edward Wivell, the album is an […]

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Savage life and scenes in Australia and New Zealand: Being an artist’s impression of countries and people at the antipodes. George French Angas (1847)

“The 10th of April was a sultry day; the ranges to the eastward of Adelaide were to be crossed… Burr, Bonney, Gisborne, and myself, all in “bush” costume, with tether-ropes and pannikins slung to our saddles, jogged on through the winding paths and beneath the rich shadows of the stringy-bark forests, till long after the […]

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A voyage round the world, performed in the years 1785, 1786, 1787, and 1788, by the Boussole and Astrolabe, under the command of J. F. G. de la Pérouse… 1798-1799.

Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse was born in France in 1741. As a teenager he studied at a Jesuit College, before joining the French navy where he became a successful seaman and navigator. Early in his career he participated in numerous supply expeditions and battles, one of which – the Battle of Quiberon […]

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The golden calendar. With a perpetual almanac; illustrated by Walter Severn, and with new poems by various authors (Undated but c1864)

Born at Frascati, just south-east of Rome, Walter Severn was one of six children.  He and his brother Arthur, who would go on to become an established watercolour painter, attended Westminster School.  Though he showed a lively interest in sports such as boxing and rowing, he developed a fondness for art from an early age, […]

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Die Radiolarien. (Rhizopoda Radiaria). Eine Monographie von Dr. Ernst Haeckel (1862)

Published in 1862, Die Radiolarien is Ernst Haeckel’s large two-volume monograph dedicated to the study of radiolaria, the single-celled aquatic animals or protozoa with their spherical, amoeba-like bodies and radiating, elaborate, spiny skeletons of silica. Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel was born in Potsdam, Prussia in 1834.  Though chiefly known as a zoologist and evolutionist, […]

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Views in Australia, or, New South Wales & Van Diemen’s Land delineated: in fifty views with descriptive letter press by Joseph Lycett (1824-1825)

Dedicated to The Right Honourable Earl Bathurst, His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, Views in Australia… was Lycett’s first attempt to give the British public an impression of the grandeur and beauty of Australia.  With a particular focus on New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land, it comprised fifty stunning colour […]

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Description des maladies de la peau: Observées à l’Hôpital Saint-Louis by Jean-Louis-Marc Alibert (1825)

[Description of skin diseases: Observed at Saint-Louis Hospital: and exposure of the best methods followed for their treatment by J. L. Alibert] A massive tome of some 51 x 40 cm with 55 colour plates, Description des maladies de la peau… is Jean-Louis Marc Alibert’s masterpiece on diseases of the skin.  Originally published in 1806, […]

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The water-babies: A fairy tale for a land-baby. Charles Kingsley (1885)

Written for his son Grenville and published on a monthly basis in MacMillan’s Magazine between August 1862 and March 1863, Charles Kingsley’s The water-babies… is one of the most unusual children’s fables.  Intended as a satire in support of Charles Darwin’s On the origin of species, it delves into some of the naturalist’s preoccupations at […]

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