Book - A White Roof-Tree
From the Collection of Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village 89 Merri Street Warrnambool Victoria
- A White Roof-Tree
Author: Ethel Turner
Publisher: Ward, Lock & Co
- H 18 x W 13 x D 3 cm
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- This item is from the ‘Pattison Collection’, a collection of books and records that was originally owned by the Warrnambool Mechanics’ Institute, which was founded in Warrnambool in 1853.
By 1886 the Warrnambool Mechanics’ Institute (WMI) had grown to have a Library, Museum and Fine Arts Gallery, with a collection of “… choice productions of art, and valuable specimens in almost every branch and many wonderful national curiosities are now to be seen there, including historic relics of the town and district.” It later included a School of Design. Although it was very well patronised, the lack of financial support led the WMI in 1911 to ask the City Council to take it over.
In 1935 Ralph Pattison was appointed as City Librarian to establish and organise the Warrnambool Library as it was then called.
When the WMI building was pulled down in 1963 a new civic building was erected on the site and the new Warrnambool Library, on behalf of the City Council, took over all the holdings of the WMI. At this time some of the items were separated and identified as the ‘Pattison Collection’, named after Ralph Pattison.
Eventually the components of the WMI were distributed from the Warrnambool Library to various places, including the Art Gallery, Historical Society and Flagstaff Hill. Later some were even distributed to other regional branches of Corangamite Regional Library and passed to and fro. It is difficult now to trace just where all of the items have ended up. The books at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village generally display stamps and markings from Pattison as well as a variety of other institutions including the Mechanics’ Institute itself.
RALPH ERIC PATTISON
Ralph Eric Pattison was born in Rockhampton, Queensland, in 1891. He married Maude Swan from Warrnambool in 1920 and they set up home in Warrnambool.
In 1935 Pattison accepted a position as City Librarian for the Warrnambool City Council. His huge challenge was to make a functional library within two rooms of the Mechanics’ Institute. He tirelessly cleaned, cleared and sorted a disarrayed collection of old books, jars of preserved specimens and other items reserved for exhibition in the city’s museum.
He developed and updated the library with a wide variety of books for all tastes, including reference books for students; a difficult task to fulfil during the years following the Depression. He converted all of the lower area of the building into a library, reference room and reading room for members and the public. The books were sorted and stored using a cataloguing and card index system that he had developed himself.
He also prepared the upper floor of the building and established the Art Gallery and later the Museum, a place to exhibit the many old relics that had been stored for years for this purpose. One of the treasures he found was a beautiful ancient clock, which he repaired, restored and enjoyed using in his office during the years of his service there.
Ralph Pattison was described as “a meticulous gentleman whose punctuality, floorless courtesy and distinctive neat dress were hallmarks of his character, and ‘his’ clock controlled his daily routine, and his opening and closing of the library’s large heavy doors to the minute.”
Pattison took leave during 1942 to 1945 to serve in the Royal Australian Navy, Volunteer Reserve as Lieutenant.
A few years later he converted one of the Museum’s rooms into a Children’s Library, stocking it with suitable books for the younger generation. This was an instant success.
In the 1950’s he had the honour of being appointed to the Victorian Library Board and received more inspiration from the monthly conferences in Melbourne.
He was sadly retired in 1959 after over 23 years of service, due to the fact that he had gone over the working age of council officers. However he continued to take a very keen interest in the continual development of the Library until his death in 1969.
Ethel Mary Turner
Ethel Turner (25th January 1872 – 8th April 1958) was an English-born Australian novelist and children's literature writer. She was born Ethel Mary Burwell in Doncaster in England. Her father died when she was two, leaving her mother Sarah Jane Burwell with two daughters (Ethel and Lillian). A year later, Ethel’s mother married Henry Turner, who was 20 years older and had six children of his own. Sarah Jane and Henry had a daughter, Rose. Henry Turner died suddenly, leaving Sarah Jane with nine children and little income. In 1879 Sarah Jane moved to Australia with Ethel, Lillian, and Rose; within the next two years she married Charles Cope and gave birth to his son Rex.
Ethel Turner was educated at Paddington, New South Wales Public School and Sydney Girls High School she was one of the school's original thirty-seven pupils. Ethel started her writing career at eighteen, founding the Parthenon, a journal for young people, with her sister Lillian. Writing as “Dame Durden”, she wrote children's columns for the Illustrated Sydney News and later for the Australian Town and Country Journal. In 1891 the family moved to Woodlands, a large house in Lindfield, now Killara, which was then out in the country. Woodlands still stands today in Werona Avenue and is where she wrote “Seven Little Australians”.
In 1896 Ethel married Herbert Curlewis, a lawyer. After living in Mosman, they built their own house overlooking Middle Harbour. The house, Avenel, is where Ethel Turner spent the rest of her years. She survived her daughter Jean Curlewis, who died of tuberculosis, by 28 years. Jean was also a writer of children's books, although not as popular as her mother. Jean's works include “The Ship That Never Set Sail”, “Drowning Maze”, and “Beach Beyond (1923)”. Her son Adrian, was a Barrister, Captain in WW2 and a Changi and Thai-Burma Railway POW and later a Judge.
Ethel Turner died at Mosman on 8 April 1958 at 85. She is buried at Macquarie Park Her best-known work is her first novel, Seven Little Australians (1894), which is widely considered a classic of Australian children's literature and was an instant hit both in Australia and overseas. It is about a family of seven children growing up in Australia. The book, together with its sequels “The Family at Misrule” (1895) and “Little Mother Meg” (1902) that deal with the lives of the Wolcott family, particularly with its seven mischievous children in 1880s Australia. A companion to "Seven Little Australians", “Judy and Punch” was published in 1928. Like her stepfather, the character of Captain Woollcott was a widower with six children. The book was made into a feature film in Australia in 1939 and a UK television series in 1953. A 10-episode television series was made in 1973 by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Turner published a number of other books for children, short stories and poems. “Three Little Maids” (1900) is a strongly autobiographical novel about her family's migration from England to Sydney, Australia. Turner wrote more than forty novels. Some were about the mischievous Wolcott’s. Others were serialized, like her books on "the Cub", and some were stand-alone. The children she wrote about were all adventurous and independent. They frequently got themselves into sticky situations and got themselves out of them with very little to no adult help.
Turner was awarded a number of prestigious literary awards and could be considered one of Australia's best-loved authors. She is listed on The Australian Women's Register. The Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature is given annually under the auspices of the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards.
Ethel Mary Turner, Biography: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethel_Turner
- The Pattison Collection, along with other items at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, was originally part of the Warrnambool Mechanics' Institute’s collection.
The Warrnambool Mechanics’ Institute Collection is primarily significant in its totality, rather than for the individual objects it contains. Its contents are highly representative of the development of Mechanics' Institute libraries across Australia, particularly Victoria. A diversity of publications and themes has been amassed, and these provide clues to our understanding of the nature of and changes in the reading habits of Victorians from the 1850s to the middle of the 20th century. The collection also highlights the Warrnambool community’s commitment to the Mechanics’ Institute, reading, literacy and learning in the regions, and proves that access to knowledge was not impeded by distance. These items help to provide a more complete picture of our community’s ideals and aspirations.
The Warrnambool Mechanics Institute book collection has historical and social significance for its strong association with the Mechanics Institute movement and the important role it played in the intellectual, cultural and social development of people throughout the latter part of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. The collection of books is a rare example of an early lending library and its significance is enhanced by the survival of an original collection of many volumes.
The Warrnambool Mechanics' Institute’s publication collection is of both local and state significance.
- Label on spine cover with typed text PAT FIC TUR
Pastedown front endpaper has sticker from Warrnambool Children’s Library covered by a sticker from Corangamite Regional Library Service
- 29 Apr 2019 at 3:42PM