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Archive for November, 2010

DUNTROON HOUSE, ca 1909ADDITIONAL details about the life and writings of John Clavering Wood have only recently come to light, thanks principally to research implementing the Canberra-based Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program (ANDP). The editors’ hunch that the author of Tom Hurstbourne possessed a journalistic talent has been confirmed.

During the early 1860s, J. C. Wood was the factotum (supervisor) for George Campbell, laird of ‘Duntroon’ station (homestead pictured ca. 1909) in Canberra, long before the region became the nation’s capital. Wood was captain of the local cricket team, helped to organize public events such a charity ball and ploughing match, was adept at speechifying, but most importantly, turned his hand to newspaper reporting for the early Queanbeyan newspaper The Golden Age.

For instance, readers of  Tom Hurstbourne will be familiar with the author’s quippy turn of phrase. The same flair was used in his newspaper columns to enliven what might otherwise have been dull cricket write-ups. For instance, instead of “he’s out”, Wood wrote, “the batsman heard behind him the rattle of a departing wicket…” In lieu of “out for a duck”, he states: “Some of their best men came out as blank in the face as was the paper on which their score was to be placed…”

While the research is ongoing, the interim conclusion is that no longer may John Clavering Wood be simply described as ‘early Queensland novelist’. To this we must now add ‘reporter’ and ‘cricket-lover’. (Photo courtesy of NLA 4560175)

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Marche Hall, Sep 2010IT helps to have friends in high places, in this case a helicopter instructor overflying Marche Hall in Shropshire with a camera at the ready. Despite the overcast day, here’s how the house looked on Monday 13 September 2010, with the surrounding fields, usually green, just freshly harvested.

The home’s main entrance (the white portico surrounded by ivy) looks east. At the top of the photo but obscured by greenery is Marche Manor.

A Shropshire Squire provides a different sort of ‘overview’ of the 350-acre Marche estate in offering a snapshot during 1812-1825, while in Tom Hurstbourne or A Squatter’s Life, the same spot was the inspiration for Hurstbourne Grange, which was so central to the hopes and ambitions of the book’s hero.

Thanks sincerely to photographer Tam Hazan. He apologizes for the slightly unfocussed second photo, but vibration is a fact in a helicopter pilot’s life…

Marche Hall, after harvesting

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