Tuesday, 29 March 2016

From raspberry cordial to the ‘green flash’

I was looking through the new publication Real modern : everyday New Zealand in the 1950s and 1960s  when I saw the tea towel.

Memories came flooding back. My sister and I trapped in the small space of the dark décor in our 1970s kitchen. Doing the dishes. Who gets to dry? Who has to wash? Who decides?

In 2013 our family moved into a house with no dishwasher. Great, I thought, now my teenagers can get to lead real lives, they will have to do the dishes. They will have to interact with their parents in a new and inventive way; they will have to talk to each other. 

Monday, 21 March 2016

Colonial Kiribati language publications

March brings both the Pasifika Festival and ASB Polyfest, and in addition to this Auckland Libraries have been celebrating Pasifika with a range of events throughout the region. This provides a great opportunity to have a closer look at some historic Pacific language items in our heritage collections.

These are some of the earliest printed materials in the Kiribati language, which was formerly known as Gilbertese. These translations are by Hiram Bingham II, who was the first person to translate the Bible into Kiribati, his wife Mrs. M. Clarissa Brewster Bingham, Hawaiian missionaries and Kiribati students.

The library holds a number of these publications dating from 1860 onwards, which were acquired by Sir George Grey due to his interests in indigenous languages and philology.

Hiram Bingham II and Clarissa went to Kiribati on the Morning Star, which was funded by 10 cent contributions from children across the United States. You can read Bingham II’s Story of the Morning Star via the Internet Archive.

In addition to using religious texts as colonial tools, the missionaries in the Pacific also produced primers of grammar and arithmetic. This is the earliest publication we hold in Kiribati, a Gilbert Island primer, also containing hymns compiled by Bingham II on pages 7-20. This particular hymn is illustrated with a picture of the Morning Star.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Shakespeare: in conversation

Over the past few weeks the Central City Library has been host to two talks in a series of events to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 1616, with two more events scheduled. In conjunction with the Pop-up Globe we have had some outstanding speakers who have brought a range of perspectives and expertise to these events.

For those who have missed it, the first talk, Shakespeare from page to stage, has been uploaded to the Auckland Libraries YouTube channel. See Miles Gregory, Artistic Director of Pop-up Globe and director of Twelfth night, Professor Tom Bishop from the University of Auckland and Ben Naylor, director of Romeo and Juliet in conversation with Auckland Libraries’ own Iain Sharp.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Fifty year wait for the loo

Auckland’s first Council-funded toilet was built for men on Queen Street wharf in 1863. However, the first Council-funded women’s facilities did not open until 1915 - after women’s groups and the district health officer had spent many years agitating for them. Prior to the Wyndham Street loos opening, women relied on toilets at the public library, railway station, ferry company and stores – who lavishly advertised these sought-after conveniences. The Strand Café offered “beautifully fitted ladies’ lavatories”, and Smith and Caughey “cordially invited” ladies “to make free use of our up-to-date writing and retiring rooms and lavatories.”

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The works of Geoffrey Chaucer

Amongst the works of literature that Sir George Grey donated to the library is this interesting volume of Geoffrey Chaucer’s works printed for Bernard Lintot in London in 1721:

The works of Geoffrey Chaucer : comparedwith the former editions, and many valuable mss. out of which, three tales areadded which were never before printed / by John Urry, student of Christ-Church, Oxon. deceased ; together with a glossary, by a student of the same college. To the whole is prefixed the author's life, newly written, and a preface, giving an account of this edition.

Although it has become known as the Urry Chaucer, after the initial editor John Urry, at least 5 men contributed to the final product. The work was left unfinished at Urry's death in 1715, and the final revision and completion were entrusted to Timothy Thomas who wrote the preface and glossary. Thomas was aided in this task by his brother William. The volume also contains a biography of Chaucer attributed to John Dart.