State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 66 Spring 2000


From the Editorial Chair

The Interest in Ned Kelly grows rather than diminishes with the passing of time, as was evident in the recent public response to two ‘treasures’ in the State Library — Kelly's armour and the Jerilderie Letter. What, one wonders, would the august Sir Redmond Barry, Chief Justice of Victoria and the founder of the State Library, have made of all this publicity for the man over whose trial he presided and whom he sentenced to death? Would he perhaps have just sighed and remarked: ‘Such is life!’? With his respect for learning, surely he would have approved of the scholarly enterprise of Ian Jones, who has thrown so much light on the whole Kelly episode, and the painstaking sifting of evidence about the gang's armour by Ken Oldis. Whatever Sir Redmond may have thought, we hope that readers of this number of The La Trobe Journal will enjoy the authoritative articles of these two contributors on the topic of Australia's most famous bushranger.
Sir Redmond would have had no difficulty in appreciating the scholarly work of Des Cowley and Brian Hubber whose rich survey of the early European representations of five Australian animals exemplifies the best of traditional scholarship. Their joint article, based on book treasures in the Rare Books Collection, not only opens up an interesting subject of research, but should give readers some appreciation of the depth of the holdings in at least one area. And, one might add, some appreciation of the scholarly attainments of these two librarians.
Another librarian, Sandra Burt, draws attention to an unpretentious object with cultural significance — the wooden cabinet which the young Australian poet Bernard O'Dowd had constructed to house his correspondence with the aged American poet Walt Whitman — which is now housed in the La Trobe Manuscripts Collection. It is a striking reminder of how the most nationalistic of poets may look beyond his native country for inspiration.
La Trobe Librarian Dianne Reilly contributes a profile of a man with a long association with the State Library who died during the year. Bookseller and book-collector John Holroyd, a member of the Friends of the State Library from the beginning, will long be remembered as an authority on the book trade and a devoted supporter of the Library.
Finally, an apology to our readers for the lateness of this number and the preceding. An unfortunate combination of circumstances, including the hospitalisation of the editor, led to our falling behind schedule. We shall try to ensure that this does not happen again.
John Barnes