8 July: Dr Lucy Sussex on: Fergus Hume and ‘The Mystery of the Hansom Cab’

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Published on: 28 May 2015

The Rare Books and Special Collections present: 


Dr Lucy Sussexphoto by Darren James   james.darren@gmail.com

Fergus Hume and the Mystery of the Hansom Cab


When: 8 July 2015, 6:30pm – 8:00pm

Where: Fisher Library F03, Exhibition Space, Level 2


Fergus Hume’s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1886) was a detective novel by a New Zealand lawyer, written with the notion of using it to promote his dramatic works to the theatre managers of Melbourne. Hume set it in Melbourne and created a vivid picture of a city in boom-time, together with its guilty secrets.  Semi-self-published in a cheap one-shilling edition (approx A$5.00), the novel sold out quickly. A consortium of Melbourne capitalists, the Hansom Cab Publishing Co., then took the book to London, where clever marketing, advertorials and the zeitgeist ensured it sold 500,000 copies, the biggest-selling detective novel of the 1800s.  Hume, however, missed out, for he had sold his copyright for £50, disbelieving a colonial book could conquer the English market.


LucyHansom Cab_small Sussex’s newly published book on Hume (Blockbuster! Fergus Hume and the Hansom Cab) for the first time tells the story of the author, his publisher, and the extraordinary story of how the book was financed, promoted, and achieved such success. Not least, it created the market for Conan Doyle and his Sherlock Holmes, helping consolidate the then new publishing category of detective fiction.


Her talk at the Fisher Library, 8 July, will consider the genres of “The …  Hansom Cab”; initially promoted as a ‘Sensational Novel’, it was also a ‘Shilling Shocker’ (as was Dr Jekyll), a detective novel, and a genuine publishing blockbuster, as well as acting as a personal advertisement for the author.  It will also discuss the incredibly rare first editions of the book (four are known to survive), where even imperfect copies are worth five-figure sums.  Not least, the nefarious secrets behind the Hansom Cab, and Hume’s own connection to Sydney, will be revealed.


Refreshments will be provided.

For updates on social media: #RareBooks; #FisherLibrary

Please RSVP by Friday 3rd of July: library.rsvp@sydney.edu.au

26 March: Library talk by Colin Steele, Emeritus Fellow, Australian National University

child on booksThe past, present and future of books, libraries and book collecting: a personal odyssey
Thursday 26 March 2015

We invite you to an illustrated lecture by Colin Steele, Emeritus Fellow, Australian National University with an introduction by John Shipp, University Librarian, University of Sydney, 1997-2011.

Colin will reflect on “The past, present and future of books, libraries and book collecting” from over 50 years of experience, both from an institutional and personal perspective, and speculate on twenty-first century trends.

Major collections that Colin has assembled have been donated to several libraries. His Latin American collection is held by La Trobe University Library, his science fiction and fantasy collections by Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of Sydney Library and his signed Australian literature collection is in the Australian National University Library. A small but significant collection of signed Australian political material is held in the Library of Old Parliament House, Canberra. His current personal collections include signed material covering politics, sport, film and television, and biography.

From his time in the Bodleian Library, Oxford and the ANU Library, Colin will recall some of the fascinating collectors and booksellers he has met and, from his current research on scholarly communication and publishing, will reflect on the changing nature of book collecting and libraries in a digital era.

For further reading see Colin’s article on the The Sydney Morning Herald:
Bibliographica 2014: Colin Steele presents talk on the future of books and articles on his website.

This event is brought to you with the support of the Friends of the University of Sydney Library.

Time: 5.30pm–7pm
Where: Seminar Room
Level 2, Fisher Library F03
Eastern Avenue, Camperdown Campus
Cost: Free with registration required. Seats are limited.
RSVP by Monday 23 March
E library.rsvp@sydney.edu.au | T 9114 0866


Poetry reading by Les Murray AO

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Published on: 28 March 2014

Les Murraywith an introduction by Sue Butler, Editor, The Macquarie Dictionary

We are delighted to welcome Les Murray back to Fisher Library for readings from his collections of poetry.

Les is engaged at the moment reading the proofs of the American edition of his Collected Works, to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He says that the most he has to do is put in a comma that he should have put in years ago. Unlike Oscar Wilde who had the reverse difficulty – he struggled all morning taking a comma out and then in the afternoon put it back in again – Les thinks that the comma should always have been there, so as the afternoon wears on he will still leave it in. He agrees with Wilde however in general principle. A Murray dictum is: “When a book has reached this stage you do as little as possible because you will just end up ‘over-egging the pudding’.”

Les is heading off in May for a reading tour of Germany accompanied by his Swedish translator. He reads the English and she reads the German – although occasionally they swap. Her English has an American accent and Les’s German, according to one of his listeners, has improved. Then he presses on for more readings in London.

Les will read some old favourites and a number of new poems from a book in the making.

All are invited to attend this free event and light refreshments will be provided. This is a popular event and seats are limited so book early to avoid disappointment.

When: Tuesday 29 April 2014
Time: 5.30 for 6pm
Where: Exhibition Space, Level 2 Fisher Library
If you have registered your attendance and are unable to attend please let us know via
E library.rsvp@sydney.edu.au or
T 9114 0866


Governor Brisbane’s Parramatta Observatory: archaeology, artefacts, and his ‘Catalogue of Stars’

stonesJoin us to celebrate National Science Week with an illustrated presentation by Anne Bickford, historical archaeologist, to hear about the universally famous Parramatta Observatory.

When: Wednesday 14 August 2013
Time: 6-7.30pm
Where: Seminar Room, Level 2, Fisher Library
Eastern Ave, Camperdown Campus
Speaker: Anne Bickford is an alumna of the University of Sydney and a professional archeologist who has spoken and published widely on historical archaeology, heritage conservation and museum studies. She was Curator of Applied Arts at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (now The Powerhouse Musuem). Anne also project managed and directed the research and excavation of the First Government House Site in Sydney, the largest archaeological excavation in Australia.
Price: Free but seats are limited. Book early to avoid disappointment.
RSVP: by Monday 12 August
Email: library.rsvp@sydney.edu.au
Photo: Sandstone piers, which supported the transit circle instrument in the observatory for viewing the stars, still standing in Parramatta Park. Photo by Anne Bickford.

Read more > http://sydney.edu.au/library/about/friends/

Poetry reading by Judith Beveridge and Les Murray

Les and Judith

3-4.30pm, Tuesday 18 June 2013
Seminar Room, Level 2, Fisher Library

Judith Beveridge and Les Murray return to Fisher Library for readings from their collections of poetry.

Judith, poet, editor and teacher of poetry writing at the University of Sydney will read from her forthcoming book, Devadatta’s Poems. This book is based on the historical figure of Devadatta who was a cousin to the Buddha. He joined the Buddhist Order but became jealous and ambitious and tried to murder the Buddha three times. The book follows Devadatta’s time as a monk when he plotted to kill the Buddha and take over the Buddhist Order.

Les, appointed as a visiting Professor to the University of Sydney in 2008, will read from his book The Best 100 Poems of Les Murray published in 2012 by Black Inc. From his life’s work so far, spanning more than four decades, Les Murray has selected these 100 poems, his personal best, including classics such as ‘The Broad Bean Sermon’, ‘An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow’ and ‘The Dream of Wearing Shorts Forever’. He will top this up with some recent poems.

All are invited to attend this free event and afternoon tea will be provided. This is a popular event and seats are limited so book early to avoid disappointment.

This event is now fully booked.

Ern Mally as vampire

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Published on: 19 September 2012

For a poet who never existed, Ern Malley is not only still very much alive, but seems to gather strength as the years go by. What are the sources of his power?

Associate Professor David G Brooks from the Department of English will speak on the tangled web of literary hoaxes and some fascinating discoveries he has made about the poet Ern Malley.

The poetry of Ern Malley is the most famous literary hoax perpetrated in Australia. It was dreamed up by two brilliant young men with strong associations to the University of Sydney. Their hoax devastated the career of another brilliant man, also a poet, and brought on obscenity charges which hit world news. The story continues to fascinate and resonate in unexpected ways. Was it totally serendipitous that links to other poets and events are still surfacing?

David Brooks is a successful poet and author. He teaches Australian Literature in the English Department at the University of Sydney and co-edits the journal Southerly. Over his career he has come across connections that continue to surface around the Ern Malley hoax, a wide group of people, the poetry itself and even more unexpected links to France. The result was an acclaimed book, The Sons of Clovis, and large audiences at this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival.

Event details

When: Tuesday 2 October 2012
Where: Seminar Room, Level 2, Fisher Library
Eastern Avenue, Camperdown Campus
Cost: Free event but registration required as seats are limited.
T 9114 0866
E library.rsvp@sydney.edu.au

Sponsored by: This event is brought to you with the support of the Friends of the University of Sydney Library.

The Hanging Garden and beyond: Exploring Patrick White’s manuscripts (updated)

The recent publication of Patrick White’s novel The Hanging Garden was made possible by the work of University of Sydney researchers who transcribed the work from manuscript in the National Library of Australia. Professors Margaret Harris and Elizabeth Webby, together with research assistant Jennifer Moore, will talk about their Australian Research Council project on the Patrick White manuscripts acquired by the NLA in 2006, demonstrating ways in which this material freshly illuminates White’s career.

Presented by the Friends of the University of Sydney Library
When: Wednesday, 6 June 2012
Time: 6pm – 7.30pm
Where: Foyer (level 2), Eastern Avenue, Sydney Law School, Camperdown Campus
Cost: Free event but registration required (see below)
RSVP: library.rsvp@sydney.edu.au
or phone 9114 0866.

6 June 2012:

5 June 2012: An insight into the working life of Patrick White

3 April 2012: Rediscovering the Hanging Garden

2 April 2012: Patrick White’s Lost Novel Professors Margaret Harris and Elizabeth Webby interviewed by ABC Radio National presenter Michael Cathcart

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