Shakespeare and the Drover’s Wife

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“When the Shakespeare Tercentenary Memorial Fund was established in Sydney in 1912 … the goal of the organisation was to raise enough money for a fitting memorial to Shakespeare to be created by the date of the three-hundredth anniversary of his death, in April 1916. Upon the announcement of the formation of the fund, an anonymous woman wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald to speak of the enthusiasm and support the organisation could expect from Australian women: ‘Whatever work there is to do by which we women may show our gratitude and love and devotion to our Shakespeare, we only ask, do not spare us, let us work side by side with men. Our power and ability to work for a fitting memorial of a beloved idol are as great, our devotion to the cause no less.'”

This is an extract from an article I wrote for the online journal Australian Studies.

B&W text: A Grand Spectacular Pageant Ball.
Advertisement for the 1914 Shakespeare Ball

The research for this article about the way Australians commemorated the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death was only possible because of the remarkable┬ácapabilities of the Trove service, at the National Library of Australia. I was able to look up every column written about the Shakespeare Balls and other spectacular fundraising efforts, reported in minute detail in the Sydney newspapers from 1912 – 1916. I could do this at no charge, and without needing to travel to the Library in Canberra and ferret through their archives. This astonishing, useful, used resource is under threat from funding cuts, like so many other services supporting Australia’s intellectual and cultural life.

The idea of something that is already working so well, working for any Australian who cares to make use of it, and getting better all the time being curtailed is an unconscionable false economy.

Here you can read Mike Jones and Deb Verhoeven on Treasure Trove: why defunding Trove leaves Australia poorer.

The full article on the Shakespeare Tercentenary Memorial is available in downloadable PDF form here, as yet another free service from our National Library:

Shakespeare and the Drover’s Wife: the work of women in the Australian Cultural Landscape

(Australian Studies, volume 4, series 2)

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