A 7600-volume -strong collection of Australian children’s books and ephemera, one of the largest of its kind in existence, has been acquired by the National Library of Australia.
The acquisition represents a lifetime of work by the well-known Australian bibliographer and champion of children’s literature, Marcie Muir, who died in 2007.
The vast collection was acquired from Muir’s family who wanted the 7600 items to stay together. They were the result of her lifelong passion – to track down and record every children’s book written by an Australian or about Australia. This passion led Muir to also establish that the anonymous author of A Mother’s Offering To Her Children, the first children’s book to be published in Australia, was Charlotte Barton. The National Library has the book in its collection.
Director-General of the National Library Jan Fullerton described the Muir acquisition as “a remarkable collector’s collection of Australian children’s literature”.
“The National Library is delighted to acquire such a valuable collection of works relating to and about children, including books, manuscripts, ephemera and so much more,”
Ms Fullerton said.
“The collection covers an extensive time in our literary history – from the early 1800s right through to the early 1970s and it includes some rare and unusual titles which will help complete the Library’s existing holdings.
“It is as important to us as it is for the Muir family for this special Australian collection to be stored and cared for in the one place – and to be made available to all Australians.”
One highlight of the collection is the many editions of the Norman Lindsay classic, The Magic Pudding. Muir made it one of her lifelong aims to collect as many copies of it as possible, including a copy of El Pudding Magico, a Spanish edition of the book.
May Gibbs’ Gumnut Babies also appear in the ephemera section of the Muir collection, on everything from soap to magnets.