Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Hobart Book Shop

Entrance to the Hobart Book Shop 

My partner Shane Jones and I recently spent five days in Hobart, Tasmania, where we celebrated Shane’s 60th birthday. Our last (and my first) visit was in 2002. I was delighted to discover that this bookshop is still in place – it’s always heartening to see the healthy survival of an independent book store, especially when it’s as impressive as this one.

The Hobart Book Shop stocks a combination of second hand and new books. By the time we’d reluctantly dragged ourselves away, I was the proud possessor of one of each (see photos below).

I must confess I hadn’t heard of the Russian author Alexander Kurpin. It was the book’s intriguing title and the debossed leaf silhouette on the front cover of The Garnet Bracelet that made me impulsively reach for it (leaves are something of a theme in my work at present). There are eight exquisite wood engraved illustrations inside – a portrait of the author opposite the title page and one engraving assigned to each of the short stories. Unfortunately, there’s no mention of the artist. Although the text is in English, the book was published in Moscow by Foreign Languages Publishing House, Union of Socialist Republics. No publication date is provided.

I’m very much looking forward to reading Kurpin’s stories, including Moloch, which I believe is one of his best known. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, my photographs don't capture the fine, dextrous line work that distinguishes the illustrations.

The new publication (in terms of not being second hand) that I acquired is Australia Through Women’s Eyes by Ann Standish. It was published in 2008 by Australian Scholarly Publishing in association with the State Library of Victoria, although I’ve never come across it before. The book primarily focuses on nineteenth century colonial women, several of them writers and artists, including Louisa Meredith and Marianne North, who wrote about the fledgling Australian colony, but, with some exceptions, including Daisy Bates and Beatrice Webb, whose voices have not been widely heard. 

The elegant front cover of The Garnet Bracelet
by Alexander Kurpin
Title page and illustration of the author

Front cover of Australia Through Women's Eyes
Page views from Australia Through Women's Eyes by Anne Standish
Illustration: Kangaroo Apple (detail) by Louisa Anne Meredith 

Page views from Australia Through Women's Eyes. Illustration: Insect Study
by Louisa Atkinson

The Hobart Book Shop, September 2015