Hocken : Prince of Collectors

Thursday, June 25th, 2015 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

DonaldBookLaunch2015

The Hocken Collections was delighted to host the launch of Dr Donald Jackson Kerr’s latest book, Hocken : Prince of Collectors last night.

Donald is of course a colleague of ours and frequent Hocken visitor. We have followed progress on this project with great interest as Donald has spent many, many hours both here and at other institutions researching Dr Hocken’s collecting activities.

Our heartiest congratulations to Donald on the publication of a wonderful book which adds substantially to our understanding of Dr Hocken and his collections.

For more information on the book see this article in the Otago Bulletin.

Book on Dr Hocken to be launched tonight

Jolly rollicking fun: a boy’s birthday party in 1892

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | 1 Comment

Post prepared by David Murray, Arrangement and Description Archivist

What were children’s birthday parties like in 1890s New Zealand? A sweet little account of one from Gore, Southland, has turned up in one of Hocken’s latest acquisitions: further papers of the historian James Herries Beattie (1881-1972). Among these papers is a notebook of verse and prose that Herries presented to his mother when he was eleven years old.

Herries wrote about his eleventh birthday, and tells of the games, the food, the gifts, and those who  were there. The original version of the story is shown in the image below, together with a transcription of a ‘Revised Edition’ Herries made at the age of fourteen as part of an expanded series of four notebooks he titled ‘A Reading Book for spare moments’.

Beattie_MS4237_008

My Birthday Party.

Monday. June 6th 1892.

I am eleven years old now. I was going to have a party on Saturday but it rained so that it had to be put off till Monday afternoon. I got leave to get away from school at 2 o’clock. A little while after this the children that were invited rolled up so that games were started. The first thing was swinging & after all had had their turn we went for the games. We had for these: Ninepence, Rounders, Twopenny catches, Red Rover, Tig, Hiding-go-Seek, and hats or as this game is variously called, egg cap, Fools cap or rotten eggs etc. There were also lots of games with balls which I do not know the names of. After all these games we went into the house where mother had spread a glorious feed. Then we seated ourselves & had a splendid tea (at least I did) for some short bread & nice cakes were near me & somehow or other they managed to disappear which looks suspicious to me but there might have been a mysterious invisible juggler etc present who could account for them but I would not be to[o] sure if I were you because there was a voracious little boy sitting at the table. After tea was over we adjourned to the lawn or green behind the house where we played the games before tea & started to play again. We had a good game of “Red Rover” as this game is called about here although it goes under different names elsewhere. Then we had “I Spy”, which is just a sort of “Hide-&-go-seek” game. After this game as it was fairly dark (the sun had set awhile before) the girls started to take the boys hats & run away with them. This last item was the means of another nice little game which was the boys began to kiss the girls. This soon put an end to their hat-taking nonsense. There was some fun on that lawn that night for the next half-hour. Everyone seemed to be running about and there was some confusion because in the very indistinct light there were some collisions between various parties. The boys were chasing the girls bent on getting a kiss while the girls snatched the boys hats whenever a chance presented itself. After some real jolly rollicking fun everybody did proceed inside where some more games were played suitable for the house. When it was getting late the guests departed having as far as I know enjoyed themselves. The presents I got from the family were; a saddle & bridle from father, all the eatables from mother, a bible from Bessie, a pocket-knife from Jessie and two handkerchiefs from Oswald. I also received some presents from the children who were invited & as they had all been told especially not to bring presents I considered it real handsome of them. I got an ornamental inkstand from Dick, Lily, & Isabella Smaill, a ball from Hettie Lewis & a set of school instruments (rulers, pencils etc) from Herb Lewis, a Birthday card from Tom & George Brown, and also a very pretty card from Mary Nichol. I will now tell you who came;

Girls

Gerty & Maud Coutts

Annie & – Graham

Lily & Isabella Smaill

Brenda & Mabel Low

Bessie & Mary McKenzie (my cousins)

Mary Nichol

Hettie Lewis

Annie Coutts

Boys

Dick Smaill

Herbert Lewis

Alick Graham

Tom Brown

George Brown

Bessie, Jessie

Herries. Oswald Beattie

 

The reason why there is more girls than boys is that my 2 sisters know more girls than I do boys.

*     *     *     *     *

Beattie’s other childhood writings included verse, history, notes on New Zealand birds, short accounts of activities, and a longer story titled ‘The Boys of Kaikatoto School’. Other material recently acquired by Hocken dates from the 1940s to 1970s, and includes a ledger containing details of book publications and other accounts, reading notes, diary notes, and other papers. There is also the complete manuscript for an unpublished historical novel titled ‘Morry: A Son of the Backblocks’. These papers have been added to our existing collection of Beattie’s papers under the reference number MS-4237.

 

 

Remembering Victorian polar exploration

Friday, December 16th, 2011 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Less well known than the Hocken’s New Zealand and Pacific material are our collections relating to Antarctica. We recently catalogued a letter with interesting links to Victorian Antarctic exploration and one of history’s most famous palaeontologists. Robert McCormick (1800-1890) was a surgeon and naturalist serving in the British Navy. After recovering from yellow fever contracted in the West Indies he evidently decided that tropical climates did not suit him, obtaining postings to cooler climes when he could. In 1827 he travelled to the Arctic under William Edward Parry on the Hecla, studying the natural history of Spitsbergen. After unhappy spells in the West Indies and Brazil, and several years back in Britain, in 1839 he travelled to the Antarctic as naturalist and surgeon aboard the Terror, commanded by James Clark Ross. In 1852 he returned to the Arctic regions on the North Star, mapping part of the Wellington Channel. In 1884 McCormick’s two-volume autobiography appeared, bearing the impressive title Voyages of Discovery in the Arctic and Antarctic Seas, and Round the World; Being Personal Narratives of Attempts to Reach the North and South Poles; and of an Open-boat Expedition up the Wellington Channel in Search of Sir John Franklin and Her Majesty’s Ships ‘Erebus’ and ‘Terror,’ in Her Majesty’s Boat ‘Forlorn Hope,’ Under the Command of the Author.

Our copies of the two volumes of this book bear the inscription “To Sir Richard Owen K.C.B. F.R.S. &c &c &c With the Author’s kind regards & best wishes. Jany 29th 1884.” Owen (1804-1892) was one of the major figures of Victorian science, best known for his contributions to anatomy, his disagreements with Charles Darwin, and as founding director of England’s Natural History Museum. These books are part of Dr Hocken’s original collection and bear his signature, along with the pencil marks “2/12/6 2 vols 30/- net”, suggesting he obtained them from a book dealer some years after Owen’s death. The books include a few annotations by Owen and at the back of the second volume he notes the pages which include references to himself. In a section where McCormick describes a reindeer-shooting excursion, he marked the passage “Eleven deer altogether were killed by the party, four of them shot by myself” and noted “what did you do with ‘em?”

Title page of McCormick’s book, along with his portrait in naval uniform

We recently came across a stray letter from McCormick to Owen dated 14 January 1884, which seems likely to have come into Hocken’s collection together with McCormick’s book. McCormick thanks Owen for his “kind & friendly letter” with “its good wishes, for the success of my book.” He asks if Owen would “permit me, to wind up my book with it as the last addenda to this record of my life”. McCormick had presumably left it far too late to add more to his book: Owen’s copy he signed just two weeks later. The appendix does include, however, an 1865 letter from Owen to General Sabine, President of the Royal Society, testifying to McCormick’s ability as a naval surgeon and naturalist.

McCormick’s letter to Owen [Misc-MS-2133].

Blog post prepared by Ali Clarke, Reference Assistant

New book published on Judge Dudley Ward

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

A regular visitor to the Hocken is Geoff Adams, formerly the Editor of the Otago Daily Times. Geoff is the author of the recently published book Judge Ward which explores the lives of three Victorian colonists to New Zealand – Dudley Ward, a Supreme Court Judge; Ward’s first wife Anne, first national president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union; and his mistress Thorpe Talbot, who he married late in life. Geoff writes:
“Many thanks to the Hocken Collections. It allowed me to get the bulk of copious research done in Dunedin: perusing many decades of files of the Otago Daily Times and Otago Witness, not to mention sorties into other early newspapers, Lloyds’ registers,  ships’ passenger lists, street directories, searches of New Zealand births, marriages and deaths, parliamentary reports, Hansard and other tools were all fruitful too. Some loose ends finally took me as a researcher to some other places in New Zealand and to London.
Hocken excelled in my hunting Talbot, a prize-winning novelist, as well as journalist, short story writer and poet. Not only do the collections have rare copies of her major books, but there is an archive (02-034/001) on Frances Ellen Talbot (her birth name in Yorkshire) presented in 1991 by Dr George Griffiths . This consists of some interesting fragments of personal letters and writing, as well as the only known photographs of Talbot, her birth certificate and the 1902 marriage certificate to Judge Ward. The archive is restricted, requiring George’s permission to peruse. Fortunately he is an old friend and knew my interest in all of the life and contacts of Judge Ward. And I live in the Maori Hill house where the Judge and Talbot were married!
I finally traced at the National Library, Wellington, the “missing” novel of Talbot — a long epic poem “Guinevere in the South” found in a copy of the obscure Geraldine County Chronicle newspaper.  It was chasing clues concerning Timaru from the back of a cutting in George’s fragments that finally led to that discovery!”
We are glad to have helped Geoff with his research and very pleased to see the book published.
For more on the book see the Otago Daily Times 9 July 2011.
To buy the book see Amazon Books.