Children's Literature and Education in 19th Century Ireland and Australia
Scottish-born Australian writer, Catherine Helen Spence (1825-1910), believed that at the heart of a good education is 'the enjoyment of a good story'. Reading, she argued in 1905, is the 'key to the universe'.
For the first time, this exhibition brings together materials from libraries and museums across Ireland and Australia to illustrate the connections between childhood reading and education in these two countries. These materials provide a fascinating insight into the circulation of texts and ideas that underpinned children's literature and education in the British colonies in the nineteenth century. They also demonstrate the centrality of women writers to educational thinking in this time period, as well as the significance of children's literature in the processes of nation building.
Materials for this exhibition have been borrowed from key primary and manuscript collections - the Thyne Reid Trust Collection of Children's Books held at the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia; the Nesbitt School Textbook Collection in the Special Collections Library at Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland; and the Irish National Readers Collection at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra, Northern Ireland.
This exhibition significantly brings together these three important collections and extends existing knowledge of the historical interconnections between Ireland and Australia.
This exhibition has been funded by a Western Sydney University Research Development Grant and is part of a wider project on nineteenth-century Irish and Australian women's writing. In-kind support for the project has been provided by the Writing and Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University, the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney, and Special Collections at Queen's University Belfast. Digital images for this exhibition have been supplied by National Museums Northern Ireland, Special Collections at Queen's University Belfast, and the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney. All text for this exhibition is by Anne Jamison. Web development and design are by Louisa Costelloe.