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Graeme Powell

Graeme Powell

Graeme Powell was formerly Manuscripts Librarian at the National Library of Australia.

Graeme Powell reviews 'Blue Mauritius: The hunt for the world's most valuable stamps' by Helen Morgan

June 2007, no. 292 01 June 2007
The first official postage stamps of a British colony were produced on the small island of Mauritius. In 1847, seven years after Rowland Hill’s ‘Penny Black’, the Mauritian postmaster issued 500 orange-red one penny stamps and 500 blue twopence stamps. In size, shape and design, they are utterly conventional. Depicting Queen Victoria in profile, they lack the charm of the 1850 ‘Sydney View ... (read more)

Graeme Powell reviews 'Amassing Treasures for All Times: Sir George Grey, colonial bookman and collector' Donald Jackson Kerr

February 2007, no. 288 01 March 0288
Bibliomania is a disease that has afflicted men, and occasionally women, in many walks of life. Some of the most famous cases have been extremely wealthy bachelors, like Richard Heber in England and David Scott Mitchell in Australia, whose only interest in life was collecting books and manuscripts. At the other end of the spectrum have been men who were leaders in business, the professions or poli ... (read more)

Graeme Powell reviews 'Ernest Gowers: Plain words and forgotten deeds' edited by Ann Scott

October 2010, no. 325 01 October 2010
Ernest Gowers is remembered, if at all, for the writings on the English language which he undertook towards the end of his life. In 1948, at the request of the British Treasury, he wrote a small book called Plain Words. It was intended for the use of civil servants, not all of whom appreciated it, but it attracted a far wider audience, sold in huge numbers, and has never been out of print. An expa ... (read more)

Graeme Powell reviews 'Christina Stead: A web of friendship, selected letters (1928–1973)' edited by Ron Geering

May 2017, no. 391 30 April 2017
In her novel Jacob’s Room (1922), Virginia Woolf wrote: ‘For centuries the writing-desk has contained sheets fit precisely for the communication of friends. Masters of language have turned from the sheet that endures to the sheet that perishes ... and addressed themselves to the task of reaching, touching, penetrating the individual heart.’ Christina Stead’s desk contained not only sheets ... (read more)

Graeme Powell reviews 'An Unqualified Success: The extraordinary life of Allan Percy Fleming' by Peter Golding

December 2013–January 2014, no. 357 01 December 2013
In 1939 President Roosevelt nominated the poet Archibald MacLeish to be the Librarian of Congress, replacing Herbert Putnam, who had held the post since 1899. MacLeish had not previously been employed in a library. American librarians reacted to the news with outrage and disbelief, with one of their leaders claiming that he could no more think of a poet as the Librarian of Congress than as the chi ... (read more)

Graeme Powell reviews 'We Talked of Other Things: The life and letters of Arthur Wheen 1897–1971' edited by Tanya Crothers

March 2012, no. 339 01 March 2012
Arthur Wheen, a nineteen-year-old signaller in the Australian Imperial Force, sailed from Egypt to France in June 1916. A month later he wrote to one of his younger sisters in Australia recounting, in highly fanciful language, his first experience of battle. After describing his difficulties with mud and barbed wire, he told her, ‘I got out in the end though and cantered across to the German tre ... (read more)