Friday, 9 April 2010

The discovery of the jungle

A first edition of The Jungle Book, complete with a handwritten inscription by author Rudyard Kipling to his youngest daughter, has been discovered in a National Trust property in Cambridgeshire. Inscribed "This book belongs to Josephine Kipling for whom it was written by her father, May 1894", the book was found in the library of Wimpole Hall in a collection belonging to Kipling's second daughter Elsie Bambridge, who lived in the property between 1938 and 1976. She brought many of her own books with her, as well as those of her husband, mother and father. Josephine Kipling died of pneumonia aged six, five years after her father dedicated the book to her. "This inscription is very touching, especially when you consider that Kipling lost not only Josephine, but also his youngest child, John, who died in the Great War," said Wimpole Hall curator Fiona Hall. "As Kipling's only remaining child, Elsie would have really treasured this book." Josephine Kipling's copy of The Jungle Book came to light following a three-year project to catalogue the Wimpole Hall library. Although the inscription is unsigned, the handwriting, based on analysis of many other items in the Kipling archive, is believed to be the author's. "There are nearly 7,000 books in the Wimpole library and this has been a big project to catalogue them all properly, but as one of the nation's favourite children's books of all time, this first edition of the Jungle Book with its rare inscription is very special," said Mark Purcell, the National Trust's libraries curator. The catalogue is shown on the website of the specialist academic library catalogue, COPAC
Text and images from The Guardian website and

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Down to earth down under

Australian Country Gardens
Trisha Dixon
National Library of Australia

One of my passions in life is gardening and to find a gardening book in the Official Publications Collection is surprisingly not that unusual as I demonstrated with the spring exhibition. However, this book has just arrived from the National Library of Australia and it is an exquisite, picturesque book.
The author has chosen 25 gardens in Australia and has linked writers, poets and artists to the landscapes and gardens. Each garden is accompanied by anecdotes and biographies.
I think from looking through the book my favourite garden would have to be Frensham, Mittagong, New south Wales.
Winifred West writes The happiness which comes to us here should be expressed in our lives, not only in the making of gardens and the planting of avenues, not only in buildings of bricks and mortar, but also in the building of the spirit.
Winifred West was brought up in the late Victorian England, she was deeply involved in the philosophy of education. She was a highly intellectual woman at the time when university degrees were not conferred on women. In 1907 she travelled to Australia on board the Runic in the company of members of Shackleton’s first Antarctic expedition. In 1913 she set up a boarding school for girls at Frensham, the teaching of the girls was to nurture, stretch their potential to the limit and broaden the mind, to let them grow in a happy, unrestrained atmosphere and beautiful surroundings.
The garden is the manifestation of her cultural ideas, her love of nature, of the spiritual world and of plants, and her desire to create beauty. Trisha Dixon describes part of the bricked garden, a secret place hidden from the school by overgrown hawthorn hedges as a scene from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden.
I wonder out of the 25 gardens in this book which would strike a chord with you.

All their memories can be found in the National Library of Australia which is the grand caretaker of the national memory.