Cover of Openbook spring 2023 issue.

Openbook online

A magazine about books, libraries, art and ideas.

The Library's quarterly magazine has had makeover and is now called Openbook. Read a selection of articles here.

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Spring 2023

Portrait of Elisabeth Cummings in bushland at Wedderburn

Elisabeth Cummings

Author/s
Elizabeth Fortescue

Elizabeth Fortescue on the great artist who has two major exhibitions happening this year.

Black and white photograph of Charmian Clift running up the beach.

The Clift edge

Author/s
Caroline Baum

Caroline Baum thinks about writer Charmian Clift’s legacy on the centenary of her birth.

Portrait of Omar Sakr sitting in Casula Library

A second home

Author/s
Omar Sakr

The libraries that made me.

Sasha Soldatow with a party hat holding a cigarette and smiling at the camera

40 boxes

Author/s
Inez Baranay

Inez Baranay reflects on her complicated biographical subject, Sasha Soldatow.

Poster with picture of parrot and text saying 'Don't be taken in by Parrot cries vote No'

You say you want a referendum

Author/s
Andrew Trigg

Andrew Trigg explores the Library's referenda-related ephemera.

Rara Avis the impossible black swan

Author/s
Margot Riley

A new addition to the Library’s world-class collection of Australian ornithological drawings.

June Dally- Watkins in ad

A model archive

Author/s
Lisa Clifford

Lisa Clifford reflects on donating her late mother June Dally-Watkins’ scrapbooks to the Library.

Winter 2023

Elizabeth Jolley, 21 April 1989. Photo by Julian Cowan, Newspix

The Bard of Eccentricities

Author/s
Nathan Hobby

The centenary of writer Elizabeth Jolley’s birth prompts a literary biographer to revisit her complicated life and work.

What Pip did next

Author/s
Nicole Abadee

The bestselling writer of The Dictionary of Lost Words has a new book.

Design for the ‘Pan Pacific’ project home, Nino Sydney for Lend Lease Homes, c 1961

When Sydney came to town

Author/s
Anna Dearnley

Architect Nino Sydney gave his adopted city high-end design at an affordable price.

All the Will in the world

Author/s
Stuart Kells

The 1623 volume, Mr William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories & Tragedies, aka the ‘First Folio’, is 400 years old this year. Why is it so special?

Colour graphic with a man holding a sword and wearing Shakespearean ruff

Shakespeare Wallah

Author/s
John Zubrzycki

The Bard on tour in Bengal and beyond.

Old brown leather books on bookcase

A book by its cover

Author/s
Mathilde de Hauteclocque

A twenty-first century fine binder gains a student.

Picture of a sailing ship

The Captain

Author/s
Rowena Lennox

The devastation of a shipwreck echoes across time.

Autumn 2023

Mostly empty corner of a room with view outside a window of Sydney Harbour.

Peter Kingston’s kingdom

Author/s
Elizabeth Fortescue

Elizabeth Fortescue writes about the late artist’s Lavender Bay home, a work of art itself.

Interior of library reading room.

Library tourism

Author/s
Mark Dapin

Mark Dapin’s wish-list of the most beautiful libraries in the world to visit.

The Flying Pieman of Sydney, en pointe

Author/s
Anna Corkhill

Rediscovering costume drawings for a ballet that never was.

Colour photograph of Shannon Burns

A boy’s devotion to books and love

Author/s
Shannon Burns

The library that made me.

Summer 2022

Send for Nellie

Author/s
Alana Valentine

Singer, performer, toast of the town.

Black and white photo of a group of people standing together posing.

William Yang and Sydney

Author/s
Sally Gray

A landmark 1977 exhibition was a snapshot of the city.

Black and white photograph of woman standing on stage.

Betty jumps high

Author/s
Kath Kenny

Fifty years ago, a group of women made history on and off the stage.

Inside cover of report with picture of two bottled beers and a stemmed glass full of beer, in the background two women sit on sun-terrace.

I feel like a Tooheys ... or two

Author/s
Lisa Murray

Research in the Library’s manuscripts collection can be thirsty work.

Black and white portrait of Hélène Bessette.

The Blue Road

Author/s
Stan Correy

The untold story of French novelist Hélène Bessette and her poetic novel, La Route Bleue, a love story set in 1940s Sydney.

Shankari Chandran at Vinayak Grocery Store, Killara.

One library that began a story

Author/s
Shankari Chandran

The library that made me.

Colourful artwork where two hands appear just above the water.

Enemy aliens

Author/s
Kate Garrett
Andrew McNamara
Seumas Spark

Artworks — never before seen — by some of the ‘Dunera boys’ go on display in Orange, the place where many of the works were created.

A capital idea

Author/s
Maggie Patton

Decorated initials — artworks in themselves — have a long history.

Daisy and Woolf, by Michelle Cahill

Michelle Cahill

Author/s
Neha Kale

A novelist brings a marginalised character back to the centre.

Table with a bowl of shortbread cookies and Christmas decorations.

Festive baking time

A recipe from The Keeyuga Cookery Book by Henrietta C McGowan, published in 1911.

Spring 2022

Photo of table set with meringues and tea cups

Fit for a queen

Author/s
Phillipa McGuinness

A luncheon inspired by the Queen’s 1954 visit.

Ridge of a rocky mountain peak stretching out into the distance with blue sky above. Wisps of clouds dot the sky.

Desert Trees

Author/s
Inga Simpson

The Larapinta Trail shifts what a nature writer thought she knew about trees.

A capital idea

Author/s
Maggie Patton

Decorated initials — artworks in themselves — have a long history.

Illustration of nature scene with fish, a snake, a frog and other animals around a body of water.

Rain and Blood

Author/s
Mykaela Saunders

A poem.

A drawing of a man sitting at a desk, writing by candlelight. He is surrounded by letters.

The recalcitrant priest

Author/s
Damian Gleeson

The little-explored Therry papers are a window into the early penal colony of NSW.

Man standing on beach with arms crossed.

An unforgettable teacher — not in a good way

Author/s
Robert Drewe

The library that made me.

Drawing of several coloured mushrooms

The future is fungi

Author/s
Michael Lim and Yun Shu

Without nature’s alchemists, the world as we know it would not exist. Now we are beginning to understand fungi’s restorative role.

A coloured photograph of a flat roofed house.

The flat roofs of Sydney

Author/s
Davina Jackson

A design feature used by big-name modernist architects appeared first in a handful of houses on Sydney’s lower North Shore.

Drawing of a man holding a face mask. Text read 'Dare to be yourself. The Motto of the Masters'.

The long history of the power of positive thinking

Author/s
Alexandra Roginski

Self-help enterprises that advise how to be you — but better — aren’t as new as you might think.

Indira Naidoo stands next to a tall strangler fig tree looking up.

The Tree of Life

Author/s
Sam Cooney

In the depths of grief, Indira Naidoo turns to the natural world around her for answers.

Calling the Koori Knockout

Author/s
Brad Cooke

One of the most important sporting and cultural events on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander calendar returns.

Abstract illustration red tones with road sign motifs

Broken Glass

Author/s
Jessie Cole

A short story.

A pastel portrait of Henry Lawson in profile. Lawson wears a suit and tie and has dark brown hair and a reddish brown bushy moustache. His eyes are slightly downcast as he looks to the right hand side of the frame.

Do we still have time for Henry Lawson?

Author/s
Susan Hunt

It is 100 years since the famous writer and chronicler of bush life died.

Winter 2022

Tall man leaning against a 'shack' building. Man inside building leans out the window with a shaving razor in his hand, looking cross towards him.

The life & death of Smith's Weekly

Author/s
Robert Phiddian

The death of a newspaper plays out in a box of cartoons.

Flower patterns

The writer & the archivist

Author/s
Suzanne Falkiner
Meredith Lawn

Rose de Freycinet, a nineteenth-century French woman, stowaway and diarist, unites a writer and an archivist 200 years later.

Medical botany : containing systematic and general descriptions

All well & good

Author/s
Elise Edmonds

Twenty-first-century notions of wellness have a long lineage.

Before I get to the good bits

Author/s
John Vallance

The library that made me.

Ashendene Press, 1922

The printer’s mark

Author/s
Maggie Patton

That curious penguin on the spine of your favourite paperback isn’t there just for decoration.

A changing world

Author/s
Catherine Keenan

Children’s picture books reflect the world that makes them, but must try to remake that world too.

The Fighting Sands Brothers

Author/s
Melissa Jackson and Kerry-Ann Tape

Sport — including boxing — has long been one arena where First Nations talent has been celebrated.

Helmut & Max, June & Maggie

Author/s
Margot Riley

Fashion photographer Helmut Newton’s career began in Australia, where he met fellow photographer Max Dupain and two women who would shape his life.

Portrait of Cressida Campbell in 2022. Photo by Joy Lai

Art & life: Cressida Campbell

Author/s
Elizabeth Fortescue

As she finalises work for her landmark exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia, Sydney artist Cressida Campbell invites Openbook into her studio.

  • State Library of NSW
  • Exhibition
  • Openbook
Portrait of Matthew Abbott, by Saskia Wilson

Q&A with photographer Matthew Abbott

We managed to ask Matthew Abbott a few questions as he sat on a train travelling to Amsterdam to attend the grand opening of the 2022 World Press Photo Exhibition.

 

A portrait of HEAT magazine editor, Alexandra Christie taken at her work, Giramondo Publishing in Redfern. Shot for Openbook Winter 2022

On fire

Author/s
Miriam Cosic

Alexandra Christie is the new editor of HEAT, an illustrious literary publication in its third incarnation

Autumn 2022

Poet Allen Ginsberg sings for University of NSW students on the Library Lawn. Photo by Anton Cermak/Sydney Morning Herald

Allen Ginsberg in Australia

Author/s
Barnaby Smith

Fifty years ago, the Beat poet and living symbol of the counterculture toured Australia, during a time of personal, spiritual and political awakening.

Keira Knightley as Anna Karenina. Photo by Alamy On

On literary merit

Author/s
Kerryn Goldsworthy

We may find it easy to give a book one star, or five, but what do we really mean by the phrase ‘literary merit’?

  • State Library of NSW
  • Openbook
Photo by Joy Lai
Eating at the Peking Garden restaurant, located inside the Central Coast Leagues Club, Gosford. Photo by Joy Lai

Sweet and sour

Author/s
Annie Tong

Steamed, stir-fried or roasted, Chinese food in Australia has a long and evolving history.

‘Myrtle’, the little girl with her hand in the Peek Frean’s biscuit box

The graphic design of Donald Fish

Author/s
Andrea Black

Boxes filled with artwork, illustrations, posters, photographs and advertisements mark an acclaimed designer's life.

Jacob Janssen Singapore from on board the sunken ship Pasco, December 28, 1837, watercolour (detail)

Grand vistas

Author/s
Richard Neville

Sixteen panoramas will displayed in the inaugural exhibition of the Library’s new Drawings, Watercolours and Prints Gallery.

Ben Crabbe, Karly Joyce and Bill Dowling in the Sound Kitchen foyer. Photo by Joy Lai

The sound of words

Author/s
Katrina Lobley

What’s the process for turning words on a page into words in your ear?

Jackson Ryan, photo by Joy Lai

Embracing the uncertainty

Author/s
Bianca Nogrady

Science writer Jackson Ryan travels to Antarctica, via Mars, distant asteroids and tardigrades.

The Long March from Wollongong

Author/s
Elizabeth Humphrys

A historian finds rich industrial history, and photography, in the archives.

How to colour in a ghost

Author/s
Rachel Franks

The challenges of bringing a hangman known as ‘Nosey Bob’ back to life.

Tim Soutphommasane in Cabramatta

A nondescript building in Cabramatta

Author/s
Tim Soutphommasane

The library that made me.

Summer 2021

  • State Library of NSW
  • Collection
  • Exhibition
  • Openbook

A global view

The artistry of centuries-old globes is only one aspect of their continuing allure.

 

2019 NSW Premier's Literary Awards shortlists. Photo by Joy Lai.

And the winner is …

Author/s
Phillipa McGuinness

What impact do prizes have on Australia’s literary ecosystem?

Kate Evans in her garden, photo by Joy Lai

See also

Author/s
Kate Evans

The library that made me.

Photo of Emily Bitto

Wildest dreams

Author/s
Sam Cooney

Emily Bitto's second novel raises compelling questions about writing and living.

Illustration by Rosie Handley

Bendalong

Author/s
Eleanor Limprecht

A short story.

Sandstone detail taken for the Eight Days in Kamay exhibition, Kamay National Park, Botany, 2020. Photo by Joy Lai

Recasting sandstone country

Author/s
Jarrod Hore

Sydney’s sandstone tells a story of deep time, colonial geology and a future in the balance.

Prawns, illustration

Shelling the prawns

A poem by Sarah Holland-Batt.

Members of the Australian women's cricket team practising while on tour in England, 1963

Real cricket

Author/s
Daniel Seaton

As an advocate for and chronicler of women's cricket in Australia, Lorna Thomas fitted more than a lifetime into three boxes.

  • State Library of NSW
  • Collection
  • Openbook

Three men and ...

The world of a goldfields publican comes within reach through research to uncover the secrets of an early photograph.

 

The small, ruby ambrotype photograph offered to the Library was intriguing. It came without notes about its location or date, but it looked like it had been taken on an Australian goldfield.

  • State Library of NSW
  • Collection
  • Openbook

Take 5 ice creams

In celebration of summer, here are some of our favourite ice cream images from the collection.

 

  • State Library of NSW
  • Awards
  • Literature
  • Openbook
Andrew Kwong, photo by Andy Carr

Q&A with Andrew Kwong

Dr Andrew Kwong, writer and Central Coast GP, won the Michael Crouch Award for a debut book in the 2021 National Biography Awards.

Spring 2021

  • State Library of NSW
  • Openbook
Portrait of Amani Haydar

Q&A with Amani Haydar

Lawyer, artist and women’s advocate Amani Haydar honours her mother’s life in her new memoir.

 

What does it mean to you to have your mother’s story published? (Amani’s mother, Salwa, was murdered in 2015 by her husband, Amani’s father.)

Illustration by Rosie Handley

The company of rats

Author/s
Sulari Gentill

A short story.

Orange Cemetery, NSW, photo by Lisa Murray

Going to ground

Author/s
Lisa Murray

To learn the history of a town, start in its quietest place.

Illustration from map The Kingdom of Tonga, c 1979

A glossary of tapu terms

Author/s
Winnie Dunn

Inspired by Amrita Hepi.

Burns Philp Pacific cruise advertisement, The Home magazine, 2 January 1936

Reimagining the Pacific

Author/s
Ian Hoskins

While the Pacific has loomed large in Australia’s history, there is a riddle at the heart of our relationship with the region.

Georgina Reid, 2020 © photo by Daniel Shipp

Coming home

Author/s
Georgina Reid

A life, as much as a gathering of words, is a story of places. It begins and ends with soil beneath feet, water within heart.

A fleeting return

Author/s
Russell McGregor

Beauty and rarity were irresistible in the search for the Paradise Parrot one hundred years ago, as they are for birders today.

‘U. Peters corner store, George Street, Waterloo’ by Australian Photographic Agency, c 1956-1960.⁣

Then and now: Corner shops

Author/s
Annie Tong

In the days before self-serve checkouts, 24/7 petrol stations and on-demand deliveries, most Aussie families flocked to their nearest corner shop.

James and Isabella Martin and members of household at Clarens, Potts Point, c 1860, attributed to Thomas Wingate, Sydney Living Museums

Grand designs

Author/s
Howard Tanner and James Broadbent

Photographs reveal the grand inner-city gardens that were once the glory of Sydney.

Giacomo Bianchino, photo by Bruce York

Finding the poetry

Author/s
Mathilde de Hauteclocque

Writer and teacher Giacomo Bianchino found himself in need of a library collection and space to work in.

Winter 2021

Jamie Marina Lau, photo by Diego Campomar, shot at The Photo Studio Australia

Novel thinking

Author/s
Bri Lee

Jamie Marina Lau began her second novel in a dream-like state that belies her intense research.

Rick Morton, photo by Joy Lai

On kindness

Author/s
Rick Morton

The opposite of kindness is not cruelty or malice. It is reason.

Radhiah Chowdhury, photo by Joy Lai

New chapters

Author/s
Rebecca Slater

On diversity, discomfort and the turning of a new page for the Australian publishing industry.

  • State Library of NSW
  • Openbook
Headshot image of Vashti Hughes

Q&A with Vashti Hughes

Underground theatre and cabaret performer Vashti Hughes talks about her one-woman show Dictionary by a Bitch: The Journals of Bee Miles.

Illustration by Fiona Katauskas

Strike me pink!

Author/s
Amanda Laugesen

Has news of the demise of Australian English been greatly exaggerated?

Book spines

Spine tingling

Author/s
Maggie Patton

Looking closely at the spine could unlock the mystery of a rare book, or it could raise more questions.

Illustration by Rosie Handley

Including others in this email

Author/s
Debra Adelaide

A short story.

hannah_maclurcan.jpg

Woman of spice

Author/s
Steve Meacham

Long before Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules and Great Bake Offs, a homegrown celebrity cook introduced the newly federated Australia to a horizon of taste, practicality and sophistication.

light_less_guarded_illustration.jpg

Light less guarded

A poem by Jane Gibian.

  • State Library of NSW
  • Openbook
Laura McPhee-Browne, photo by Leah Jing

Autumn 2021

Beyond belief

Author/s
Patrick Mullins

Protecting the innocent through censorship has been a fraught and — in hindsight — sometimes comic endeavour. 

alarm_clock_final1.jpg

The Alarm Clock

Author/s
Markus Zusak

In the Schumacher household it was legendary: The Alarm Clock.

Michael Williams, photo by Joy Lai

Turning pages

Author/s
Neha Kale

Sydney Writers’ Festival Artistic Director Michael Williams is ready for the challenges of 2021.

Joe Hillel and Daniel Bornstein, The Grubby Urchins, photo supplied

Shanty town

Author/s
Mark Dapin

A recent online boom in sea shanties is a welcome surprise for longtime converts.

Tony Wheeler in Melbourne with a bicycle and attire from the 1890s, photo supplied

A lonelier planet?

Author/s
Tony Wheeler

A different kind of travel tale can be found amid the pandemic, if you know where to look.

Rebecca Starford, 2021, photo by Jason Zambelli

Words across cities

Author/s
Bri Lee

The theme of friendship and betrayal took this writer and editor from her non-fiction debut to her first novel.

Illustration from The Voyager’s Companion or Shell Collector’s Pilot, 1825, by J Mawe

Gifts from the sea

The timeless appeal of shells has seen them preserved in many ways over the centuries.

Dyarubbin, the Hawkesbury River, from above Sackville Reach, photo by Joy Lai

Following the river

Author/s
Marika Duczynski

Darug people share a deeper story of Dyarubbin, the Hawkesbury River.

What about the sheilas?

Author/s
Elizabeth Fortescue

Peter Kingston couldn’t please everyone in his artist’s book Sheilas, but the result is a special piece of work.

Illustration by EM Mierisch

Instructions before forgetting

A poem by Eunice Andrada.

View at Oldbury, c 1826, by Charlotte Atkinson

Finding Charlotte

Author/s
Kate Forsyth

Two writers’ search for their mysterious and talented forebear was full of archival riches.

  • State Library of NSW
  • Collection
  • Openbook
The Vision of Hell, 1868, by Dante Alighieri, illustrated by Gustave Doré

The divine Dante

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.— Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, 1320
 

The great Italian poet Dante Alighieri died in Ravenna, in northern Italy, in 1321. Seven hundred years later, the literary world is joining Italy in commemorating the life of a writer who is considered the father of the Italian language because he chose to write in vernacular Tuscan rather than Latin.

SL Magazine - Winter 2020

Illustration of peas in a wineglass, on a book.

Peas: a short story

Author/s
Heather Rose

It’s just a bag of peas, she told herself. I can order more online. So why was she crying?

Art of Newcastle: convict artists in Aboriginal Country

Author/s
Mark Dunn

An Aboriginal leader’s assistance to the artists of the Newcastle penal settlement led to an unprecedented visual record of the local Indigenous people.

The world in a book: the first atlases

Author/s
Maggie Patton

In the Golden Age of Cartography, the first atlases combined the skills of the mapmaker with the ingenuity of the publisher.

Mireille Juchau.

These strange days: writers, post COVID-19

Author/s
Mireille Juchau

As writers adapt to a vastly altered publishing landscape, how will they remake themselves in a post-pandemic world?

‘Unprecedented’: the Library through two pandemics

Author/s
Elise Edmonds

The extraordinary events of the past few months are unprecedented in our lifetimes, but the response to the Covid-19 pandemic contains echoes of the 1918–19 influenza outbreak. The Library is one of many institutions following the lead of our forebears.

Letters by Muriel Knox Doherty, August-October, 1945

Letters from Bergen-Belsen

Author/s
Louise Anemaat

Australian nurse Muriel Knox Doherty recorded her experiences and insights after the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. 

  • Aboriginal
  • Exhibition
  • History

Curating Eight Days in Kamay

Author/s
Damien Webb

In 1770 the Gweagal people of Kamay (Botany Bay) discovered James Cook and the Endeavour. The Library’s new exhibition explores the eight days that followed.

Summer 2020

Illustration by Matthew P Burgess

Tall and trimmed

Author/s
Mark Dapin

All thing must pass, and even statues have to know when it’s time to go.

New territory for maps

Author/s
Steve Meacham

The world of early cartography is irresistible in the Library’s new Map Rooms.

Kate Mulvany, 2020, photo by Joy Lai

Staging Kate

Author/s
Bri Lee

Writer and actor Kate Mulvany defies the neat stories people write about her.

Detail from The Fin de Siècle Newspaper Proprietor, an illustration featured in an 1894 issue of Puck magazine (source: Library of Congress)

The spreading fire of fake news

Author/s
Margaret Van Heekeren
An old timey woman and man sit on a ledge near a chair

The contestant: a short story

Author/s
Rick Morton

After a person dies, there is the game show.

The lost film of Nellie Stewart

Author/s
Graham Shirley

Of all the Australian stage performers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Nellie Stewart was the best known and most universally loved.

Swamp paperbark trees (Melaleuca quinquenervia), Lachlan Swamp, Centennial Park, Sydney, 2019, photo by Rebecca Hamilton

Deeper history

Author/s
Rebecca Hamilton

Science and history come together in conserving the swamplands of southern Sydney.

Grace Perry, c 1960s

So you want to be a poet

Author/s
Penelope Nelson

She found fame as a teenage poet, but Grace Perry’s startling later work and her support for fellow poets are barely remembered.

Backscratcher Ginger, drawing by Janet Hauser, 2017

Drawing to a close

Author/s
Sarah Morley

An artist followed in the inspiring footsteps of a botanist rescued from a tragic expedition in 1848. 

Vlyssis Aldrovandi patricii Bononiensis Serpentum, et draconu[m] historiae libri duo, 1640, by Vlyssis Aldrovandi

The Art of the Title page

A title page has always told readers what the book is about, but sometimes with an artistic flourish.

Springwood Gumnut Library, front

Six splendid street libraries

Street libraries are boxed shelters for books, managed by passionate local ‘librarians’. These tiny vestibules of literary happiness can be enjoyed, refilled and built by anyone.

'Demonstrations were our internet'

Author/s
Ashleigh Synnott

Fifty years after the first gay rights organisation was founded in NSW, the activism of the 1970s still resonates.

Illustration by Amani Haydar

A writer’s guide: POC edition

A poem by Maryam Azam.

SL Magazine - Spring 2020

A man is sitting in a bath with a wombat, goat and kangaroo and the water is overflowing onto the floor

Mr Archimedes Moves In

Author/s
Sarah Morley

The Library is the new home of award-winning children’s author and illustrator Pamela Allen’s extensive archive.

Soundings - Some Views on Religious Education in South Australia

Chalk and church 

Author/s
Stephen Jackson

The place of religious instruction in public schools has long been controversial. 

The Diary Files

The Diary Files 

Author/s
Richard Neville

The Library’s online diary preserves everyday experiences of Australians during the pandemic. 

The Gatherings Order 

Author/s
Elise Edmonds

A behind the scenes look at the new podcast series exploring the last great influenza pandemic in 1919.

A fully rounded masterpiece 

Author/s
Robert Holden

In difficult times, Australian expatriate artist George Lambert challenged himself to paint a distorted reflection. 

Illustration by Rosie Handley

Probate: a short story

Author/s
Tony Birch

Stan didn’t look good at all. I could see him in the garden, through a window. Hunched forward, sucking on a cigarette, mistaking it for a sign of life.

two spiky lizards are facing each other

Singing with the wind

Author/s
Emily Gallagher

Sydney writer and naturalist Ella McFadyen combined a love of nature, folklore and poetry. 

An Aboriginal flag is planted in a dry riverbed

Totems

Author/s
Heidi Norman

How can a dialogue between Indigenous ancestors and descendants forge connections to country for all Australians?

SL Magazine - Autumn 2020

A composite image of photos, certificates, and documents.

Ancestry tree: a family’s escape from genocide

Author/s
Ashley Kalagian Blunt

A collection of papers traces one family’s escape from the Armenian genocide.

A nice little business: NSW’s circulating libraries

Author/s
Jane Gibian

Part of daily life in the mid twentieth century, circulating libraries have left charming traces.

Head portrait of a woman in military uniform, in six burst shots.

Betty Archdale: leading the way

Author/s
Margot Riley

The daughter of a courageous suffragette, Betty Archdale excelled in several fields that rarely admitted women.

SL Magazine - Summer 2019

Drawing depicting slaves planting sugar canes.

The first sugar: James Williams’ story

Author/s
Emma Christopher

Sugar and slavery are intertwined in the hidden story of Australia’s early industry.

Illustration of a dense thicket of plants and the animals among it.

Stories in the sun

Author/s
Maria Savvidis

The Library holds vast collections on Australian children’s book publishing in the ‘golden age’ of the 1970s and 80s.

Young man sits at a wooden desk, surrounded by shelves of boxes and jars.

Reclaiming our story

Author/s
Callum Clayton-Dixon

A contributor to the Library’s Living Language exhibition reflects on Indigenous resistance, survival, and the New England linguicide.

A spread of various crafts and booklets by Myles Dunphy.

Love is all: Myles Dunphy and romance

Author/s
Anna Corkhill

The well-known conservationist Myles Dunphy’s romantic side is beautifully illustrated in a new acquisition.

Collection of condolence letters.

Peace with pestilence: the 1918–19 influenza

Author/s
Alison Wishart

After four years of war, ‘normal life’ ceased again in early 1919 as an influenza epidemic spread through the country.

SL Magazine - Spring 2019

An illustration depicting a lavish gathering of gentlemen.

150 years ago: the Free Public Library

Author/s
Richard Neville

A vital public institution.

Electric image: 1980s poster art and one Sydney band

Author/s
Margot Riley

An eye-catching poster got the message out for an emerging Sydney band in 1980.

A landscape photograph depicting a misty river as viewed through a break in tree cover.

The real secret river: exploring Dyarubbin

Author/s
Grace Karskens

A list of Aboriginal placenames was a trigger for seeking the ‘real secret river’.

A sepia photograph of a woman framed by dried wattle sprig and a lock of hair.

Daidee and Eric: the first Mrs Dark

Author/s
Margo Beasley

Intimate letters from 100 years ago paint a detailed self-portrait of a young Australian woman.

SL Magazine - Winter 2019

The cabin in the woods

Author/s
Dr James Dunk

The madness of a free settler and a convict found expression on the outskirts of the new colony.

Dead Central: the Devonshire Street cemetery

Author/s
Elise Edmonds

Established in 1820, this cemetery became the final resting place for many Sydney-siders throughout the 19th century. The land was finally cleared in 1901 to make way for Sydney's new Central Station.

A two-colour illustration of a woman working on one side and with housework on another, with the words "A woman's work is never done".

Everything: a 1980s anarchist-feminist magazine

Author/s
Helen Cumming

A feminist newspaper from the early 1980s brings back memories of lively co-op meetings, nutritious sandwiches and high ideals.

Two women, lit up by projected words.

Living language: Aboriginal languages in New South Wales

Author/s
Damien Webb
Melissa Jackson
Marika Duczynski
Ronald Briggs

A major exhibition opening in July at the Library will celebrate UNESCO’s International Year of Indigenous Languages.

A woman stands in front of a wall of Vietnamese art posters, smiling.

Mythical country: Vietnam in 1950s posters

Author/s
Sheila Ngoc Pham

Looking through Vietnamese art posters collected in the 1950s elicits complicated feelings all these years later.

River dreams

Author/s
Ian Tyrrell

Bold plans to transform the Cooks River in Sydney are reflected in the Library's collection.

SL Magazine - Autumn 2019

A sepia photograph of a boy wearing an oversized army cap, standing and saluting.

Quick march! The children of World War I

Author/s
Elise Edmonds

To mark the centenary of the peace year, 1919, we take an intimate look at the lives of children during the ‘war to end all wars’.

An assortment of four endpapers in various styles and colours.

Endgame

Author/s
Maggie Patton

Hundreds of delightful and intriguing endpapers can be found in the State Library of NSW collection.

SL Magazine - Spring 2018

Claiming space

Author/s
Dr Breda Carty

The histories of people with disability in Australia can be found if you read ‘against the grain’.

the magic pudding illustration

The Magic Pudding

Author/s
Sarah Morley

In October 1918 Angus & Robertson published what would become one of Australia’s best known children’s stories: The Magic Pudding.

Curator Anna Corkhill researching picture collections, photo by Joy Lai

Behind the scenes in our new galleries

Author/s
Cathy Perkins

We’ve almost doubled our gallery space to show more of the Library’s collection and give exhibition visitors a chance to make their own connections.

SL Magazine - Winter 2018

An old magazine cover, featuring a woman wearing a swimsuit and a cone-shaped, bamboo hat and the headline: "Bigameist confesses 'I had six wives'".
  • Art and culture

Working for the Weekend

Author/s
Ryan Cropp

Donald Horne’s unlikely editorship of the mass-market Weekend magazine was a crucial stage in the Lucky Country author’s development as a public intellectual.

vanessa barry

Underground albums

Author/s
Vanessa Berry

The optimism of a city imagining its future is captured in photographs, plans and sketches.

Julia Sharp, Conservation Manager, David Stein & Co, works on the painting

Arresting gaze

Author/s
Helen Casey

A compelling portrait of a young colonial woman has been given new life. 

Toulgra

Toulgra

Author/s
Ronald Briggs

An 1802 portrait of a young Eora man, by French artist Nicolas-Martin Petit, is remarkable for its attention to detail.

SL Magazine - Autumn 2018

Tiles from the Sun Newspapers Ltd building, Sydney, c 1929, designed by Donald Bain
  • Collection item
  • History
  • In Depth

Keeping company

Author/s
Bridget Griffen-Foley

A historian shares her delight in the recently acquired Fairfax Media Business Archive.

Image of letters
  • History
  • People
  • Quick Reads

Love letters

Author/s
Alison Wishart

In the current era of instant digital communication, letters between long-distance lovers have a particular poignancy.

SL Magazine - 2017

Portrait of Mr Banks
  • History
  • Quick Reads

The book that Joseph Banks burned

Author/s
Matthew Fishburn

An eccentric French nobleman, a letter about Cook’s Endeavour voyage and an enduring bibliographic mystery come together in the Library’s Banks collection. 

Image of Florence Taylor, Editor, Building magazine
  • Art and culture
  • Collection item
  • Quick Reads

How Australia builds

Author/s
Margot Riley

The recently digitised Building magazine is a trove of information about twentieth century construction. 

  • History
  • People
  • Quick Reads

Recipes for country living

Author/s
Mark Dunn

Among the papers of the Scott brothers, who settled in the Hunter Valley in the 1820s, is a manual for frontier living.

Maria Linders’ family photographs
  • History
  • People
  • Quick Reads

Family business

Author/s
Tanya Evans

The continuing boom in family history research is having a far-reaching impact on how people understand themselves and the world. 

L’extrémité des alamedas à Lima
  • Art and culture
  • Discovery
  • Quick Reads

A French sailor-artist on the South Seas

Author/s
Anna Corkhill

An enquiry from France brings to light a gem of nineteenth century travel illustration.

Max Dupain Sunbaker image
  • Art and culture
  • Current exhibition
  • Discovery
  • Quick Reads

Under the sun: 15 artists respond to Dupain's Sunbaker

Author/s
Claire Monneraye

Max Dupain’s Sunbaker has inspired an exhibition of contemporary and thought-provoking artworks. 

Ulladulla snapper fisherman, 1959, by Jeff Carter, PXD 1070
  • History
  • Quick Reads

Record catch: 80 years of east coast fishing

Author/s
Dr Ruth Thurstan

Merging history and science, a Library fellowship tracked 80 years of fishing off the east coast of Australia.

  • History
  • Quick Reads

Red Cross under the Southern Cross

Author/s
Melanie Oppenheimer

The Australian Red Cross NSW Division archive spans over 100 years of humanitarian aid.

SL Magazine - 2016

A photograph of a garden of low bushes with mountains in the distance.
  • Current exhibition
  • Image

The modern garden

Author/s
Howard Tanner

Outstanding gardens are revealed by leading photographers in a new exhibition.

A 60s Kodak colour slide showing people walking down a path with flower beds on either side.
  • Art and culture
  • Quick Reads

Slide show

Author/s
Richard Aitken

The quirky and obscure Hallams slide collection is a curator’s dream, revealing ordinary Australian gardens in the 1960s and 70s.

Sophia O'Brien, 1841 / Maurice Felton

Eternally yours

Author/s
Margot Riley

Buried deep down in the cool darkness of the Library’s framed picture store hangs a beautiful portrait of the young Mrs F O’Brien. It was painted in mid-1841 by naval surgeon-turned artist Maurice Felton from a death mask.

Hannah Middleton and Shirley Warin Gilgi at Daguragu, c. 1970, photographer unknown
  • History
  • Indigenous
  • In Depth

Big things grow: the Gurindji’s struggle for land rights

Author/s
Christine Jennett

The Gurindji’s struggle sparked a national network of support organisations and became a symbol of the land rights movement.

SL Magazine - 2015

A black and white photograph of an older woman standing next to a hut, resting her hand on the banister.

Buddhist modernism

Author/s
Peggy James

Bushwalker, feminist and pacifist Marie Byles helped to shape Buddhism in Australia.

Hands holding a lit match to a burning piece of paper.

Mitchell or burn: the Thompson family papers

Author/s
Penny Russell

Sifting through the ‘glorious clutter’ of the Thompson family papers offers a sense of early Sydney life and insights into several significant local families.

asda
  • Art and culture
  • Quick Reads

We tell the world: signwriting, decorating and Althouse & Geiger

Author/s
Michael Bogle

The Library’s collection offers glimpses into Sydney signwriting and decorating firm Althouse & Geiger that once boasted, 'We tell the world everything it wants to know'.

Two books placed on top of each other
  • Art and culture
  • People
  • Quick Reads

Catching a cab

Author/s
Dr Rachel Franks

A surprise bestseller in 1886, Fergus Hume’s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab continues to intrigue.

Several men in white coats sketching a young woman modelling
  • Art and culture
  • People
  • Quick Reads

Architect of the screen: Eric Thompson as architect, artist and filmmaker

Author/s
Erica Aronsten

Eric Thompson’s career as an architect, artist and filmmaker highlights the close connection between architecture and design in the development of the film industry.

Emily Chambers on ski slopes
  • Collection item
  • Quick Reads

Hitting the slopes: a young woman’s alpine adventure in the 1930s

Author/s
Margot Riley

Thoroughly modern Miss Emily Chambers of Burwood, NSW, was always eager to try the latest fad.

Photograph of leather bound journals and diaries
  • History
  • People
  • Quick Reads

Writing at Gallipoli

Author/s
Elise Edmonds

First hand accounts of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.

SL Magazine - Previous years

  • History
  • Quick Reads

Australia and the bomb

Author/s
Kyle Harvey

Peace activism in Australia has a rich and complex history.

A sepia photograph of a man lying on a beach, covered in droplets of water
  • Art and culture
  • Behind the scenes
  • Image

Boy oh boy!

Author/s
Cathy Perkins

In 25 years at the State Library, our Curator of Photographs has seen four people cry.

'Portrait Gallery' c. 1870, from the Earngey album [Photographic scenes and portraits of Fijian natives, Aborigines of Queensland and Clarence River NSW, British Royalty and the Exhibition Building at Prince Alfred park, 1870-1875]
  • Indigenous
  • Quick Reads

Contact prints

Author/s
Nicola Teffer

Portrait of Gumbaynggirr and Bundjalung people from the 1870s show how photography shaped race relationships in the nineteenth century. 

Members of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are advised that this story contains names and images of deceased people.

Image of parkes letters
  • Behind the scenes
  • Discovery
  • Quick Reads

A remote drama

Author/s
Angela Dunstan

A Library fellowship uncovered an archive of emotion in the correspondence of Henry Parkes and Thomas Woolner.

Image of Pickwick papers- Charles Dickens
  • Art and culture
  • History
  • Quick Reads

A distant paradise for Dickens

Author/s
Warwick Hirst

Charles Dickens saw Australia as a utopia for the working class — and his wayward sons.

  • History
  • Natural world
  • Quick Reads

Through Darwin's eyes

Author/s
Paul Brunton

Australia played an important role in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

An illustration of a social hall, with ladies in dresses accompanied by men in tailcoats.

Power and influence on the Cumberland Plain

Author/s
Elizabeth Ellis

Sydney’s colonial gentry built mansions, held lavish parties and amassed fortunes beyond the imagination of their English relations.