Mary Lyon: Pioneer educator.

Mary Lyon was a pioneer educator of girls in the US in the nineteenth century. From a modern perspective perhaps the most important aspect of her work was that she ensured the students of Mount Holyoke Female Seminary received the same sort of education as boys – that is, science and maths were not neglected. The school started in 1837 and is still going today, though now it is called Mount Holyoke College

Lyon wanted an institution that common folk’s children could afford to attend, reaching out to wealthier women for the money to establish it. The students did the domestic work to keep the costs down. I’m sure she would be thrilled to hear that the ideals of the school have been kept. In the Princeton review of best value colleges in the US for 2014 it appears prominently.

“From its outstanding academic program and facilities to its accomplished students to the formidable faculty that love teaching as much as research, Mount Holyoke provides a first-rate experience. The academic experience is phenomenal. So is the library. The dorms are luxurious, too,” the Princeton Review editors wrote, in addition to citing other attributes of the College.

In comments based on student feedback, they wrote, “At Mount Holyoke, ‘the students are happy, intelligent women dedicated to making a real difference in the world.’ Typical students are ‘poised, eloquent, passionate, and doing interesting things both inside and outside the classroom’ and also ‘down-to-earth and laid-back but also willing to have complex conversations over breakfast.’ ”

“Though Mount Holyoke has many strengths, including a beautiful campus and top-notch academics, the one the students appreciate the most is the close-knit community and the ‘strong sense of sisterhood’ that women develop here. The social atmosphere is ‘warm and accepting,’ and the students are ‘diverse, strong, passionate, friendly, and fun.’ This strong support system is important to Mount Holyoke students, who come here to receive a first-class education in a highly academic environment, which is ‘both challenging and supportive at the same time.’ ”

For more on Mary Lyon there are her archival holdings here and a biography here

I found myself reading about Mary Lyon because I’m listing a book called Life and its Purposes. Illustrated in the Life of Mary Lyon, and Others: A Book for Young Ladies and I was hoping I could discover the identity of the unnamed author.

I found at

Possibly by William Makepeace Thayer; cf. BM 236:766.
Publication date based upon name of London publisher according to Brown, P.A.H. London publishers and printers c. 1800-1870, p. 93.

It is true that this is the sort of book Thayer wrote, indeed, he wrote books with titles that reflect similar content, so it is possible that a new edition prompted a change in the title’s wording. Nonetheless, I can find nothing definitive and I’m at a loss to know what the reference means. If you understand the meaning of BM 236:766 please let me know! Perhaps then I can solve my puzzle.

John Oxenham WWI poet

You have to be a historian to appreciate the dichotomy between what was valued in the past and what we have chosen to keep of it now, which of course, will be reevaluated by future generations ad infinitum. Books and writing bring it home all the time. Who’s heard of John Oxenham? And yes, he is the father of the famous children’s writer, Elsie Oxenham. History has left us with ‘the war poets’, a select group whose writing about WWI is currently how we like to see it. But what about back then? In this period as we are reflecting on the first of the big twentieth century wars, might it not be apt to remember it as those who lived through it remembered it?

And if that’s the case, then it isn’t Siegfried you should be reading, it is Oxenham. His poetry sold over one million copies during the war and his hymn, ‘For Men at the Front’, sold at least five million copies, that being the most conservative estimate.

For The Men At The Front

Lord God of Hosts, whose mighty hand
Dominion holds on sea and land,
In Peace and War Thy Will we see
Shaping the larger liberty.
Nations may rise and nations fall,
Thy Changeless Purpose rules them all.

When Death flies swift on wave or field,
Be Thou a sure defence and shield!
Console and succour those who fall,
And help and hearten each and all!
O, hear a people’s prayers for those
Who fearless face their country’s foes!

For those who weak and broken lie,
In weariness and agony–
Great Healer, to their beds of pain
Come, touch, and make them whole again!
O, hear a people’s prayers, and bless
Thy servants in their hour of stress!

For those to whom the call shall come
We pray Thy tender welcome home.
The toil, the bitterness, all past,
We trust them to Thy Love at last.
O, hear a people’s prayers for all
Who, nobly striving, nobly fall!

To every stricken heart and home,
O, come! In tenderest pity, come!
To anxious souls who wait in fear,
Be Thou most wonderfully near!
And hear a people’s prayers, for faith
To quicken life and conquer death!

For those who minister and heal,
And spend themselves, their skill, their zeal–
Renew their hearts with Christ-like faith,
And guard them from disease and death.
And in Thine own good time, Lord, send
Thy Peace on earth till Time shall end!

and here, from his best-selling – though he had to publish it at his own expense as his publishers didn’t want to – book Bees in Amber


He writes in characters too grand
For our short sight to understand;
We catch but broken strokes, and try
To fathom all the mystery
Of withered hopes, of death, of life,
The endless war, the useless strife,—
But there, with larger, clearer sight,
We shall see this—His way was right.

This is how people lived and died during WWI, with the words of Oxenham providing the meaning, the reassurance to make the unbearable bearable. We should not forget this.

Of the Pricing of Books there is no End

I’ve been meaning to write something about this myself, but Judith has beaten me to it. I will add to it another time.

Judith writes:

I let Monica answer the phone as a rule. My familiarity with telephones stretches back less than sixty years, and coming to terms with technology new to me is not my strong point. For some reason, though, I fielded a call a couple of days ago. It began inauspiciously. The enquirer mentioned haggling. I mentioned that I don’t, but would get the book in from the storesheds anyway. He rang back the next day and asked for me. I was able to tell him what a lucky fellow he was: the book was listed at $75 but the insured postage was a mere $6 by insured large letter, making a total of $81.

Once, for bookdealers, pricing was a bit like breathing – you hardly noticed that you were doing it. You made it up as you went along. Now with all the information on the internet it may be a little more difficult: look up a title, find a given price range, viz. $0.01 to $2564 and take your pick. However, it remains quite refreshing to come across a potential customer who has studied the subject, although these customers are seldom of the kind who help us booksellers pay our bills. The enquirer had calculated that the book was worth $60 to him, postage included. He recommended with cogent argument that I accept his offer. He based his price on a number of incontrovertible facts. Firstly, the size. It seemed to him that, with but 112 pages, the 279 x 198 mm book was not much more than a pamphlet. Secondly, the subject matter was people whom nobody has heard of, and some of them are, in fact, already dead. The clinching argument concerned a theory of supply and demand. It appears that Pioneer Books is oversupplied with this title as we have never sold this copy, and it is highly unlikely that anyone, apart from himself, will ever want to buy it.

I had to agree with everything he said. I mean, it’s almost self-evident. I did demur over the word ‘pamphlet’, but it’s certainly no Gutenberg Bible. And, yes, the subjects of the book, are, like most of us, practically unknown, and if not already dead, soon will be. And, yes again, there is, at the moment, no line of people at our door all desperately hoping to be the lucky purchaser. Most telling of all is the devil’s advocate in the heart of all sensitive new age booksellers, informing us of the likely final resting place of most of our unsold stock in this digitally blighted age.

Nevertheless, the phone call ended with my suggesting that he try elsewhere for a cheaper copy. I wished him luck, and told him that though he could not get a better copy, I’d be surprised if he didn’t get a cheaper one. He, admirable man, accepted defeat less easily than I. He asked me to consult my partners and suggest to them that we accept his offer.

What is it about secondhand books that inspires such fiscal restraint among a certain percentage of buyers? Many years ago Paul and I provided a collector with a copy of a title in the ‘British Trials’ series. The purchaser, a man who had accumulated great wealth as a defence lawyer for the notoriously criminal and who has since received official honours for conspicuous philanthropy, looked at the book, deemed it not worth the $25 we were asking for it, paid us $15, and left.

‘How did that happen?’ I asked. ‘Why did we let it happen?’ Paul asked; then, ever the philosopher, shrugged his shoulders. ‘Oh, well,’ he said, ‘If ever we take up crime instead of bookselling perhaps he’ll give us a knock-down on his fees.’

Once I would have concluded these observations by drawing attention to the coincidence that it is only when the bookseller is considered to be overcharging that these differences of opinion arise. However, a few months ago a woman came to collect a copy of Mincham’s book on the Flinders Ranges.

‘That will be $15 dollars,’ said Monica.

‘No,’ replied the customer. ‘I couldn’t pay $15 for this. It’s worth $25.’ And she refused to pay less even when Monica showed her the price clearly on our data base

Caroline Carleton – South Australian poet

As I’ve mentioned, I’m looking at Australian poets in the period mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries because we seem to be listing lots at the moment, and difficult lives is a common theme, particularly for the women.

Each has a unique story, and yet each is nonetheless typical in the struggles and privations experienced. For over 150 years now Carleton is remembered as the creator of the lyrics for one song, its impact being sufficiently longlasting that it came close to becoming our national anthem, losing out to ‘Advance Australia’. She won a handsome sum of money for her efforts and given that she had a gainfully employed husband, one might be forgiven for thinking ‘pin money’ then. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Caroline Carleton

Caroline had married in England and a few years later in 1839, with two young children, they boarded a ship to take them to a new life in Adelaide. Both children died during the voyage, the horrors of which I don’t think we can even imagine. Her husband had been a medical student when they married and never finished his studies. Perhaps this is reflected in his dizzy progression from job to job in Adelaide, which wiki describes thus:

After a few false starts making cordials, castor oil, and other commodities, Charles (who never completed his degree) became around 1844 medical dispenser to the Colonial Surgeon, Mr. James George Nash F.R.C.S. They may have resided at the Adelaide Hospital, where Caroline had two more children. In 1842 he was assayer with Alexander Tolmer’s expedition to Mount Alexander which subsequently escorted a quarter of a ton of gold to Adelaide. In 1845 he and a Dr. Davy built a trial lead-smelting furnace. In 1847 they moved to Kapunda, where Charles was employed as assayer and perhaps as medical officer.

In 1849 they returned to Adelaide, where he opened a chemist’s shop at 37 Hindley Street, then in August 1851 to ca.51 Rundle Street. He visited the gold diggings at Forest Creek, Victoria, perhaps working as an assayer and gold buyer, and returned to his Rundle Street shop with new advertising directed at miners. The shop was taken over early in 1853 by James Parkinson and throughout 1853 to May 1854 he was selling bottled English porter and stout at Blyth’s Building, Hindley Street.

He was returning officer for Grey Ward in the 1855 Census.

He took a position as superintendent of the West Terrace Cemetery in November 1855.

He may have taken on the position, but it was Caroline who did the work. He spent his time ill and then dying. It was towards the end of this period that she wrote ‘The Song of Australia’ under the name of Nil Desperandum. Surely, if you have heart strings, reading that tugs at them, doesn’t it? We read in a recollection of Carleton written in 1922, that the clergymen of Adelaide petitioned the government to permit her to continue on the work she had been doing for her husband, but the plea was declined. If her son has been old enough, it could have been awarded to him and she could have done it for him – or for any male – but not on her own account.

And so the government officials of Adelaide made the decision that Carleton should be a desperate mother of 5 children with no means of supporting them other than selling poetry. She set up a school – as was another common ploy of destitute educated women in the colonies – indeed, we recall the relatively successful example of MJ Franc in South Australia – but found it hard going and so we see her next in the court notices of the newspapers of the day:

South Australian Register
Thursday 8 August 1867 ‘The Undersigned, CAROLINE CARLETON, of North-terrace, Adelaide, Schoolmistress, do hereby declare that I am unable to meet my engagements with my Creditors. Dated at the hour of half-past two o’clock in the afternoon, this seventh day of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven.’
Wednesday 28 August 1867 She is one of a long list of paupers listed to appear in court for insolvency.
Wednesday 18 September 1867 She is too ill to present herself to the insolvency court and so her case was adjourned.
Wednesday 9 October 1867 ‘In that of Caroline Carleton, the insolvent was again absent, aud the Official Assignee was empowered to issue a warrant for her arrest if he thought proper.’ and the same day:
Wednesday 9 October 1867 ‘In re Caroline Carleton, late of North-terrace, schoolmistress; an adjourned final hearing. Mr J. W. Downer for the insolvent. The insolvent did not appear, and after a few remarks by His Honor animadverting on her contemptuous treat ment of the Court, the Official Assignee was em powered to issue a warrant for her arrest if he thought fit.’
Wednesday 23 October 1867 In the matter of Caroline Carleton, the insolvent was awarded a second-class certificate without suspension.

She struggled on with her notion of opening schools and died utterly exhausted in her early fifties.

The Mail
Saturday September 1, 1934 published the following about Carleton written by Beatrice Bevan who I understand to have been a critic and poet.

Authoress of ‘The Song of Australia’

WHEN an Act of Parliament created the Colonisation Commission of South Australia to deal with the new colony’s settlement on lines worked out in Newgate by the notorious lawyer abductor of heiresses, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, there was in the house of the Gordon’s at Layal in the Azores, the baby who was later to come to South Australia and to be acclaimed ‘Australia’s National Poet’ and, in England was the girl who was to be the authoress of ‘The Song of Australia.’ ‘ Caroline was the daughter of William Baynes of Bonner’s Hall, near London. At 18 she mar ried Charles James Carleton, of an old English family, and a few years later left with him and their two little children for South Australia.. It was a sad voyage, for their two children died, but soon after reaching the new land Mr. Carle- ton was given a medical appointment in Ade- laide, and later, at the Kapunda mines. He had studied medicine in England, and intended some time to return and fully qualify for his degree. Prospects in South Australia were bright. Mr. Carleton bought up land at Glenelg, and opened a chemist shop.

THEN came the financial crisis. The Government was practically insolvent, and so were many individuals. Mr. Carleton was urged to go through the insolvency court, as others were doing. He and his wife decided somehow to meet their liabi- lities, without taking that step, and they did so, though with a young family to provide for, the struggle was too much for Mr. Carleton’s never too robust health. He was given the position of Superintendent of Cemeteries, not too cheerful an occupation, and too much work for his health. Caroline Carleton did the work in his name, and it was under these conditions that she wrote our ‘Song of Australia.’ which won the prize given by the Gawler Institute on the occasion of its second anniversary. Herr Carl Linger won the prize for the musical setting. On Mr. Carleton’s death the Governor was petitioned to allow her to keep on the work she had been doing in her husband’s name. There was objection to the position being held by a woman. Her son was too young for it to be in his name, so she lost it. She then began to teach. but. though her bright spirit remained indomitable to the end, she had reached the limit of physical resistance. She caught a chill was unable to teach, and went to live at Wal laroo with a daughter who had a school there. She died in 1874, four years after Adam Lindsay Gordon, died in Victoria. IN the Wallaroo Cemetery is the obelisk of polished red granite, set on a square base. One side has a scroll on which is inscribed:— ‘In memory of Mrs. Carlton, authoress of The Song of Australia.’ who was interred in this cemetery on July 12, 1874. Aged 54 years; Erected by her admirers. November. 1923.’ The baby from Layal has been acclaimed ‘Australia’s National Poet.’ and has the niche next to Lord Tennyson (another link with South Australian history) in the Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey. How shall we honor Caroline Carleton? By making her song the national song of Australia?

I’ve started thinking – too much perhaps – about the bravery of these women who came to Australia, leaving behind their families, their safety, their homes. To what extent was their poetry the thing that made it bearable for them? Carleton wrote this, a regular theme of these women who came to this utterly alien primitive place on edge of the world, while life was utterly desperate.

Oh, say not that no perfume dwells
The wilding flowers among;
Say not that in the forest dells
Is heard no voice of song.
The air is laden with the scent
Borne from the clustering flower
With which the wattle is besprent,
Like Danae’s golden shower.
And silvery wattles bending low
Sweet incense scatter far,
When light winds kiss the pensile bough
Beneath the evening star.
And forest flowers of varying dye,
Now white, now blushing red,
In modest beauty charm the eye,
And fragrant odours shed.

There’s perfume breathed from Austral flowers,
And melody is there —
Not such as in far Albion’s bowers,
Falls on the accustomed ear.
But thrilling snatches of wild song,
Poured forth from lonely glen,
Where winds the hidden creek along,
Far from the haunts of men.
And hoarser notes in wild woods heard
Sound like strange harmonies,
As flashes past the bright winged bird,
Gleaming in azure skies.
Then say not that no perfume dwells
The wilding flowers among.
Say not that in the forest dells
Is heard no voice of song.

They were able to elevate themselves above the shitty drudgery of life in exile and elevate their readers at the same time. Thousands of people turned out to remember Carleton on Centenary day in Adelaide, 13 March 1936. In the mid-1970s when the competition was held to decide the new national anthem, Carleton’s Song of Australia was one of only three which were seriously considered. There is no entry for her in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. There is one for the man who composed the music. When you read it, you might keep in mind that the only reason that there is a remembrance to him, created in the 1930s was because one was built for Carleton.

Carleton’s most famous legacy

Who is George Essex Evans?

After a genteel start in life, born 1863 in Regents Park, London, George’s family fell on hard times after his father died. Exile to Wales was followed by emigration to Australia. He struggled here, not least because of increasing deafness, even from a young age. It is as a poet he is remembered and as is so often the case in that field, what is popular is not what is critically praised. Still, who needs the support of the critic when the PM is on your side? In Parliament after Evans’ death, Deakin mourned him as ‘Australia’s poet’. The copy we have us signed and inscribed by the poet to CC Kingston, another famous national politician of the early Federation period.

George Essex Evans
‘Australia’s Poet’

Wiki gives this story regarding the circumstances of his death.

Essex Evans was a great advocate for the construction of a new road northward across the Australia and after falling ill in 1909 he became the first passenger to be transported over it when taken to hospital. The men working on the road were so overcome with sorrow for the poet who had worked hard to bring about the new road that they relieved the ambulance men of their duty.

He soon died after surgery, in 1909, aged 46 years old.

Candidate for luckiest book ever to be published?!

Manuscripts get lost. Hard copies get lost – flood, fire, confiscation have all happened to writers I know. Soft copies get lost. I once had a mechanical failure of my hard drive that destroyed beyond recovery everything I had on it including a book I was making good progress on. Don’t ask what happened to my backup.

I wonder how often they get found again? I love the story of RaggleTaggleFleet. The author, Ladislaw Reday, kept a WWII diary but lost it in 1943 ‘when it was left in a suitcase on a plywood landing craft which broke down on the Morobe River in New Guinea.’

The story continues thus:

Some time later a Mick Morris from the Australian Army Water Transport Unit, came sailing up the Morobe River and saw the abandoned landing craft, and being a bit of a scrounger, (his words not mine) went onboard and found a suitcase containing the diary and a pewter mug engraved Ladislaw Reday.

In 1975 Mick Morris who was living in Sydney at this time saw in the paper that a Mr & Mrs Reday were house guests at the wedding of a Mr Jack Savage’s daughter, Mick Morris before the war had sailed with Jack Savage, so he rang Jack and confirmed that the Ladislaw Reday was the same person who served in New Guinea with the US Army Small Ships, Mick made an appointment to meet with Laddie Reday later at an hotel in William Street Sydney where the Case containing the diary and the mug were handed over.

This wasn’t the end of it, the book that resulted from the diary didn’t get published until after the author’s death. You can read the story in full here.

It makes the average string of publishers’ rejections pale into insignificance, does it not?

Annie Bright

Preparing Annie Bright A Soul’s Pilgrimage for listing made me curious – as usual.

Imagine this: you have married a freethinking minister, abandoned your home in England to the disapproval of your parents, landed in Australia in 1865, soon to be all but buried in penury and the commonplace tragedy of death in those times. One of her children died, then both her parents, only to be followed by her husband’s being swept off a cliff on a school excursion, drowned.

Yet, Annie had felt that it was right for her to be in Australia and her fortunes certainly turned around as she married Charles Bright and discovered her talent for writing.

For more on her life and work see ‘This World and the Next’ and The Australian Dictionary of Biography