Children's literature 1476-1946: an exhibition of material from the Rare Book Collection. Monash Library, 26th April - 28th June 1991


Children's literature 1476-1946: an exhibition of material from the Rare Book Collection. Monash Library, 26th April - 28th June 1991



The exhibition was held in the Rare Books Exhibition space, Sir Louis Matheson Library, Monash University from 26 April - 28 June 1991. The present exhibition shows material from The Lindsay Shaw Collection of Australian Children's Books set in a context of British children's books from the Monash University Library Rare Books Collection. Mr. Lindsay Shaw is the former Secretary of the Faculty of Education. He is also a Friend of Monash University Library and our major benefactor. In 1983 Lindsay Shaw made his first donation of books to the Library, starting what is now known as the Lindsay Shaw collection of Australian Children's Books. He has made further donations since then and this magnificent collection at present numbers nearly 6,000 titles and now forms an important part of the Rare Books Collection at Monash University Library. Apart from the Australian children's material, Lindsay Shaw has also donated general Australian literature and an important collection of Walter de Ia Mare material also held in the Rare Books Collection. In building up his collection of children's books, Lindsay Shaw has used a wide range of sources. He has consulted bookseller's catalogues from all over Australia, visited second-hand booksellers, op-shops, markets and school fetes. The result is a collection which contains much more than the obvious children's classics commonly available. Much forgotten or little known material and much material with obscure or hidden Australian relevance is found in the collection. Australia in the 19th and 20th century did not exist in a cultural vacuum any more than it does now. Accordingly, the Australian children's material in the exhibition has been set in a context of British material from the Rare Books Collection. British books were more commonly available than any other books in Australia in the 19th and early 20th century, and for a long time it was more prestigious for Australian authors to be published in Britain than in Australia. The fact that most of the 19th and early 20th century Australian children's authors represented in the present exhibition used British publishers illustrates this practice. To supplement the Lindsay Shaw Collection of Early Children's Books, we have drawn upon the Rare Books Collection especially books of a relatively ephemeral nature which were commonly available to Australian children in the 19th and early 20th century. The books in the present exhibition have been selected with generous assistance particularly from Lindsay Shaw, from Richard Overell, the Rare Books Librarian and from Pat Miles of Technical Services who has previously worked on the collection. Only a tiny part of the Lindsay Shaw Collection and a small part of Monash's collection of British children's books could be shown. It was therefore decided to concentrate on older material, and very little published after World War II is included. A decision was also made to concentrate on the less well known material although some Australian classics have been included. Major British authors deliberately excluded are Jonathan Swift, Charles Dickens and Walter De Ia Mare. Swift was excluded since the important Monash Swift Collection formed the basis for several recent exhibitions. Dickens and De Ia Mare will be subjects of separate exhibitions.








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Smith, Merete and Smith, Merete (curator), “Children's literature 1476-1946: an exhibition of material from the Rare Book Collection. Monash Library, 26th April - 28th June 1991,” Monash Collections Online, accessed June 21, 2024,

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