Archive for April, 2010

Mary Ryan staff

Mary Ryan's Andrea and Christine pay rapt attention...

A HAPPY BAND of book-lovers raised a glass to Tom Hurstbourne at New Farm’s Mary Ryan Bookshop last Thursday evening 15 April.

The well-publicized “Editors at Dusk” event attracted around 20 notable locals to hear how John Clavering Wood’s 1865 manuscript – against all the odds – survived for 145 years until the happenstantial appearance of the author’s gg-grandson Gerard Benjamin and transcriber par excellence, Gloria Grant. Boolarong Press recently published this remarkable early work of Queensland literature.

Gloria and Gerard presentation

Gerard makes a point about his gg-grandfather John Clavering Wood.

With superlative publicity organized by Andrea Clifford (Boolarong and Mary Ryan’s) and owner Christine Purdy’s expert rearrangement of the New Farm shop into a congenial launch pad, the evening proved a delightful opportunity to salute a by-gone author and mix with like-minded bookophiles, all against a sumptuous backdrop of well-stocked shelves.

Sincere thanks to Christine and Andrea as well as Chris Derrick for doing the photographic honours.

Trio at Mary Ryans

Mother and daughters trio are on a quest for their own Queensland ancestor.


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Booksigning at IpswichEARLY in 1857, Londoners Leonora and William Monk with a babe in their arms arrived in Ipswich by steamer, warmly greeted by another couple. The following year their next child was born and Henry Monk was baptised at St. Paul’s Church of England. Twenty-seven years later, Henry married Nellie Wood in Rockhampton. From what we now know, the headline might have read, “Ipswich Man marries Daughter of Queensland’s Second Novelist”!

There was some historical symmetry therefore when Gerard and Gloria recently signed copies of Tom Hurstbourne at Ipswich’s Riverlink shopping centre, less than 100 metres from where Gerard’s Monk forebears most likely set foot on Ipswich soil, 153 years ago.

Jenn Neumann and her willing assistants at Angus & Robertson provided a very hospitable welcome, and what followed was an enjoyable stream of enquiries and sales. Ipswich might be considered by some just a big country town, but Ipswichites certainly seem keen on history and reading, and Ipswich was mentioned on p. 142 of Tom Hurstbourne! Why, one woman bought three copies: one for her family, one for her child’s class teacher and one for the school’s headmaster! No wonder the two-hour event became a three-hour one. As a result, we’ve been invited back in August.

Finally, what of the couple who met the Monks in 1857? They were none other than Leonora’s sister Catherine and her husband William C. Wakeling – yes, the same Wakeling named on the plaque beside heritage-listed “Claremont” at 1A Milford Street, as designing the beautiful home for merchant John Panton. The Wakelings adopted the Monk ‘babe-in-arms’ and provided him with an invaluable apprenticeship. As a result, Surveyor George W. Monk made the history books as finding the route for the scenic and precipitous Kuranda Railway in Cairns.

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