On the cover

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post by Dr Ali Clarke, Library Assistant – Reference

We’re always pleased to see images from our collections featuring on the cover of new books! Each year we put together a list of published items – from books to theses, blogs to journals, television series to exhibitions – which have made use of Hocken resources. Some of them relate to research carried out on our archives or publications, others have used our pictorial collections, and some have done both. So far we have tracked down over 200 items published in 2015 for our list, including 69 books. The variety of topics covered is remarkable, as demonstrated by the few examples featured here.

S15-533a MS_0975_234

MS-0975/234

The very handsome 4-volume set of James K. Baxter’s complete prose, edited by John Weir, involved lots of digging through Baxter’s archives, which are held here. The cover of the first volume features an amusing photo of Baxter with his coat on backwards in Cathedral Square, Christchurch in 1948, sourced from his archives. Another particularly handsome book that has drawn heavily on the Hocken Collections is John Wilson’s New Zealand mountaineering: a history in photographs. including many from our holdings of the New Zealand Alpine Club’s archives. Among them is the great cover shot of Syd Brookes and Bernie McLelland descending North Peak in the Arrowsmith Range in 1939, from an album compiled by Stan Conway.

011

We can’t claim the splendid cover picture for Simon Nathan’s biography James Hector: explorer, scientist leader – that comes from the Alexander Turnbull Library – but he has made very good use of Hector’s papers, held at the Hocken. Hector’s notebooks are notoriously difficult to read, thanks to faint pencil combined with illegible handwriting, but some of the sketches in them make very effective illustrations in the book. Simon has also done splendid work transcribing various Hector letters in recent years, making them accessible to others.

013

Hector’s sketches of Parengarenga Harbour and his Maori campanion, January 1866

007

Another 2015 book which brings previously unpublished work to light is New country, a collection of plays and stories by James Courage, with an introduction by Christopher Burke. Some have been previously published, but one comes straight from Courage’s papers at the Hocken. The book also features some fascinating photographs from Courage’s papers. Genre Books, the publisher, also made good use of Hocken material in a 2014 book, Chris Brickell’s Southern men: gay lives in pictures. This includes numerous photographs from the archives of David Wildey, held in the Hocken largely thanks to Chris. On the cover is one of Wildey’s photographs, recording a visit to Waimairi Beach, Christchurch in 1960.

015

Lest we leave you with the impression that all material from our collection is about recreation and enjoyment, another cover from 2014 shows a sober purpose. Presbyterian Support Otago’s report Out in the cold: a survey of low income private rental housing in Dunedin features one of our old photographs of the crowded suburbs of southern Dunedin. The Hocken really does have material for all sorts of purposes.

Locked away : Life in Mount Eden Prison

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011 | Anna Blackman | 3 Comments

What was it like inside Mount Eden Prison in the early 1960s? A manuscript discovered among Ernie Webber’s papers tells a colourful story. Himself a prisoner, Webber encouraged the writing of another inmate, Bert Pimley, whose novel The Rock Orchid is based on experiences inside. According to Webber, prison authorities applied ‘some viciousness’ when they discovered the manuscript, which they destroyed. Another copy was smuggled out, and Webber later tried to get it published. He was unsuccessful, but the typescript survives in his papers along with related letters and illustrations. The title refers to a character who resembles the beautiful but parasitic rock orchid.

Here are a few excerpts (with original spelling and punctuation):

Officer Desmond Rice was certainly a pathological study. Any time the women in the female division started a riot, Rice went across wearing a boxing glove on one hand, to knock a little sense into them. He got great satisfaction from this, mostly because he could not hurt his hand with the glove on it, nor leave marks on the women, but even if he did, who would believe such accusations, levelled at a responsible deputy principle officer? It stretched people’s credulity a lot when officer Dinny Burns and another, broke a girl’s arm, because she was a trifle independent. This was New Zealand. Such things could never happen here.

*     *     *     *     *

“If you get shifted to the basement, try not to get the ‘craps’,” advised Horne.
“Why? Is that bad?” Pintal wanted to know.
“It’s bad enough. There’s over ninety men living down there, and only one crapper. Of course, you could always use the pot in the cell if you liked.”
Also in the basement was the shower-house, kit-locker, and the “pound”, that dismal row of cold, empty punishment cells reserved for bread and water victims. Within the encircling walls was a fully-equipt boot-making shop, a tailor shop, a joinery department, laundry, tin-smiths shop, and a small department devoted to the manufacture of mail-bags. This prison even boasted a school-room and a chapel.
As they wandered about, Pintal and Horne were approached by a grinning chap, who told Cliff that young Tipu had just had a spot of bad luck. Got caught with Symes, said the chap, and went off, chuckling, to spread the news.
What did he mean by that, Cliff?” Berne asked.
“Tipu’s got bad habits. Gets himself shagged now and then by Bill Symes”

*     *     *     *     *

Gus Powell, the receiving officer, banned all comics that had guns in them, and all cheap books that had guns or half-dressed women on the covers. This was New Zealand’s toughest prison, not a Boys Home.
The officers in the sentry towers whiled away the tedious daylight hours furtively reading cow-boy books, and wing officers dodged into cells at any opportunity, to read a few chapters of almost anything lying about.
The magazine Man, a harmless monthly edition given to short stories and pictures of scantily-clad females, was banned, as also was the magazine People. But if one looked about enough, both of these editions could be found somewhere in the prison. The New Zealand weekly scandal paper, Truth, was definitely off-limits within the confines of the Mount, although a copy could usually be had, if perhaps a few days late.

Webber’s papers came to Hocken twenty years ago, but it was only during recent arrangement and description work that The Rock Orchid and other treasures came to light. Webber (1906-1983) was an intrepid New Zealand businessman. He was involved with the McArthur investment scandal of the 1930s, sold munitions in China during World War Two, and invested in forestry and other ventures back in New Zealand. He had passions for travel, entertaining, railways, and book collecting, and was part of New Zealand’s underground gay culture (the reason for one of his two spells in prison). All of these aspects of his life come through in his varied collection of personal and business papers of over ten shelf metres.

Blog post prepared by David Murray, Assistant Archivist, from Webber, Cyril Ernie Richard : Papers (MS-3333/197 and 198).

For a look at Ernie’s interest in collecting Railways books see
http://www.library.otago.ac.nz/exhibitions/all_aboard/index.html