From Trove’s newspapers to free e-Books

From Trove’s newspapers to free e-Books
Trove volunteers are preserving Australian literature
11 May 2015

Last year I spoke to some of our top text correctors and found what brought them back to Trove time and time again to correct text. One of the Troveites I spoke to was maurielyn, who turned out to be a husband and wife team who focus on correcting serialised novels and short stories found in the digitised newspapers.

Maurie and Lyn explained that once they finish correcting a novel, they download the text, set it up in a readable format and send it to Project Gutenberg Australia, a website that collects out of copyright literature and makes it available to download for free. To date, Maurie and Lyn think they’ve completed around 250–300 books. Isn’t that amazing?!

They first started volunteering for Trove in 2009, finding and correcting all the notices and articles they found about their families. While doing this they came across stories in the newspapers and they wondered where they could put them so that all their effort in correcting them wouldn’t be wasted, and so that others could enjoy the stories too. Maurie and Lyn settled on Project Gutenberg Australia because it had a large Australiana collection.

The first story that they sent to Project Gutenberg Australia was The Red Speck by Fred M. White. 

Screenshot of a newspaper article

Maurie and Lyn explain:

Fred M. White was a prolific English writer of crime and mystery stories which he wrote between about 1888 and 1934. A Trove search for him as author gives 7,466 hits, so you can see there is a lot of his work there. We quite enjoyed his style of writing and worked on his stories for a few years until we were joined by Roy Glashan (from Germany) who collected all Fred's work onto one site and also made them available in epub format. Some of Fred's stories are still turning up as new papers are added to Trove and I have recently found some in the Brisbane Telegraph which is currently being added.’

When asked which story was their favourite they said it was hard to choose given they have worked on so many. But the ones they find most interesting are the ones by Australian authors, especially those that are no longer in print.

John Sandes (also known as Don Delaney) wrote stories that give some insight into early Australian life. Maurie and Lyn really enjoyed A Bush Bayard which was later republished as A Rebel of the Bush, and The Call of the Southern Cross. Other stories about early Australia include novels by Ambrose Pratt and J. H. M. Abbott. 

Screenshot of a newspaper article

One author whose work we quite enjoyed was Arthur Gask. Gask was an Adelaide dentist who started writing novels between patients. His first novel The Secret of the Sandhills was self-published as no publisher was interested, but they soon took him on after the success of this book. His books were originally set in and around Adelaide until his publishers suggested that they should be set in England to appeal to a much larger audience. By this time he had created the fictional detective Gilbert Larose (the greatest detective in the Commonwealth), and Larose was then seconded to Scotland Yard to continue his profession. We ended up purchasing a couple of Gask's books which were not on Trove, and still keep an eye open for those we are missing.’

Image of Arthur C Gask

Mr Arthur C. Gask, a dentist and crime writer who had rooms on North Terrace during 1920–1951; B 58382, State Library Of South Australia,

Maurie and Lyn recently worked on A Novel Without a Name by William Aubrey Burnage. It was a book published in 1877 in three parts. Because parts of the story were not available through Trove, they reached out to the administrator of Project Gutenberg Australia, Colin Choat, to see if he could help fill in the gaps. Colin was able to visit the Macquarie Library and copy the parts of the story that were missing. Through this collaboration they were able to complete the story and it was added to the website just this month.

Although they have been correcting stories for some years now, Maurie and Lyn feel that they will never run out of stories to find and correct. As they work, they’ll often notice another story or find another author and add it to the ever-growing list of things to correct. They try and focus on only Australian authors but sometimes they’ll find and correct international authors as well.

The Trove team remain in awe of all the hard work Maurie and Lyn have put into this project of theirs. We wish them all the best on their continued endeavours in the great depths of Trove.

If you want to correct text like Maurie and Lyn but aren’t sure where to start there’s some suggestions on how to find articles to correct on the Trove forum. There’s also some information about correcting text in our help pages as well as some draft text correction guidelines that will help you get started. You can register with Trove, or correct anonymously.


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You are doing yeoman service to the world of letters. May your tribe increase