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Centre for the Book
Events and Opportunities related to Books at the University of Otago

Sense of Wonder Event at Dunedin Public Libraries next Tuesday

For anyone who needs more literary stimulation following Helen Bones’s talk, you can continue the conversation in the Octagon with their series, “Sense of Wonder.”

Helen Bones, “Throwing up the Sponge”: New Zealand writers and the Expatriate Myth – 5.30 p.m., Tuesday 13 March

Join author and expatriate Helen Bones for a fresh look at the received wisdom that New Zealand writers in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries had to leave colonial shores to find success. In this talk, entitled ‘”Throwing up the Sponge”: New Zealand writers and the Expatriate Myth’, Bones will draw on her new book, The Expatriate Myth: New Zealand writers and the colonial world (Otago University Press, 2018). What did it mean to be a New Zealand writer? What was the relationship between New Zealand and wider colonial and transnational networks? Join us on Tuesday 13 March at 5.30pm in Castle D Lecture Theatre to find out more.

This talk is also sponsored by Otago University Press. Copies of The Expatriate Myth will be available to purchase at the event for a special price of $30.00, cash only.

Dr Helen Bones is a New Zealander living in Australia, where she teaches history and researches with the Digital Humanities Research Group at the University of Western Sydney.

Update: World Book Day Lecture and Dinner – 5.30 p.m., Thursday 1 March

In our annual World Book Day lecture for 2018, Prof Mark Henaghan, Faculty of Law, Otago, will speak on: ‘What Books Mean to Me.’ Prof Henaghan is an engaging speaker, so this will be worth attending.

Those of you who heard Mark speak last year at UBS on Homo Sapiens know that he’s a well informed reader and enthusiastic about his reading.

Prof Tom Mole will visit the Centre in August and regrets having to change his plans.  So  we will still look forward to his lecture, but not for World Book Day.

The lecture will be held at 5.30 p.m. in Archway 2. A buffet dinner with cash bar will follow directly after the talk. If you wish to join us for the meal, please see Donald at the lecture.  We are currently at capacity, but there may be last minute cancellations.  The cost will be $40, cash or cheque payable to the University of Otago.


Otakou Press Letterpress Workshop a Success

Over the past two weekends, the Otakou Press of the University of Otago Library offered a very successful Summer School letterpress course. Five students undertook hand-printing exercises using a table-top Adana and the Vandercook Proofing press.

The very first piece was a name badge for each student printed on the Adana. The second was a pangram (a text using all the letters of the alphabet) to introduce the students to the ‘California’ layout of the tray, including punctuation marks, ampersands, pound signs, etc. That text was printed on the Vandercook on Zerkall cream paper. The most ambitious exercise was a Shakespearean sonnet, also printed on the Vandercook. Students chose their sonnet and type (mostly 14-point Garamond) and decorated it with an ornament printed in a second colour. The paper used for the sonnets was Freelife Kendo 200gsm. Another intended exercise had been to print a favourite recipe, and creating an 8-page sewn booklet. However, time ran out and this option was not started. One student did manage to print a haiku.

Throughout the two weekends the students were also shown samples of modern hand printing; inspirational press work from New Zealand, Australian, English and American press operators. In addition, they viewed a small number of early printed books with new eyes, appreciating not only the long tradition of hand printing but also the hard work involved in producing such masterpieces.

Overall, it was a very successful workshop led by Dunedin’s best handpress printer, Dr John Holmes, owner operator of his Frayed Frisket Press.

SHARP Conference 2018, 9–13 July, University of Western Sydney

This year’s Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing Annual Conference will take place in July at the University of Western Sydney and the State Library of New South Wales.

This is the first time in SHARP’s 25-year history that the conference has been held outside Europe and North America. Although the deadline for submitting abstracts has passed, the conference represents an opportunity to attend the largest book history conference in the world a bit closer to home. The conference theme is “From First to Last Texts, Creators, Readers, Agents” and the main talks will run from 10–12 July. For further information, and to register, visit the SHARP website.  We will post an update when the conference programme is released.

Moving to the Left: Special Collections Exhibition runs until 9 March

Visit Special Collections at the de Beer Gallery, University of Otago Library, before 9 March to see Moving to the Left: the Art and Development of the Frontispiece:

What is a frontispiece? When did they first appear in print? Where do they sit in relation to the rest of a book’s contents? These are just some of the questions that this exhibition addresses with the help of examples from the printed books in Special Collections, University of Otago.

The de Beer Gallery is open Monday to Friday, 8.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. It is located on the First Floor of the Central Library, 65 Albany Street, Dunedin.

Click here for more information on this and other exhibitions or to contact Dr Donald Kerr, Special Collections Librarian.


Lucinda Hawksley on Dickens the Editor and Journalist

Join author Lucinda Hawksley for a revealing look at “Dickens the Editor and Journalist.” This public lecture will be held on Thursday 8 February, at 5.30 p.m. in the Castle C Lecture theatre, University of Otago.

Most people aren’t aware that Charles Dickens didn’t only write novels: he began his career as a freelance journalist and continued to be a campaigning and investigative journalist until the day he died. When he tired of being edited by other people, he set up his own magazines, which he edited, wrote for, and commissioned other great writers to work on. In this talk, author Lucinda Dickens Hawksley will reveal a fascinating insight into this little-known world of her great great great grandfather.

Welcome to 2018 at the Centre for the Book

As a new year begins, welcome to another series of engaging events and opportunities centred upon books and all aspects of printed or written communication. As usual, the Centre will be hosting a series of public lectures, beginning in February 2018. Our Symposium will be held in October under the title Translation and Transculturation in, through, or by Print. Other exhibitions, talks and bookish occasions will be announced as they arise, so if you are not already a subscriber to this blog, please bookmark or subscribe to our feed to keep up to date with news and future events.

The Centre for the Book looks forward to welcoming you to the University of Otago and to Dunedin.

4 Novelists Reveal the Secret to Starting

Join Fiona Farrell, Paddy RIchardson, Sue Wootton and Emma Neale for a conversation with Chris Else about how they wrote their most recent novels.

Presented by the Otago-Southland branch of the NZ Society of Authors, in partnership with Dunedin Public Libraries, the event is proudly supported by the University Book Shop.  There is a modest charge of $5, payable at the door.  UBS will also gladly sell you copies of the authors’ novels.

4th Floor, City Library

Thursday, 16 November 2017, 6:30 pm

David Elliot Speaks at Dunedin Public Library, 6 pm Thursday 23 November

Come and hear the author/illustrator discuss his multi-prize-winning book, The Snark.  Learn the back-story to this inventive riff on Lewis Caroll’s famous poem.


BOOKINGS: 474 3690 or

Thursday 23 November | 6 pm | 4th Floor | City Library