The Playbill and its People

Thanks to a rare books bibliographer on the other side of the world and the subsequent generosity of the Canadian Government, the earliest printed document in Australia is now in the safe hands of the National Library of Australia. This theatre playbill, advertising a show at The Theatre, Sydney on 30 July 1796, is one of the star attractions of the National Library’s new Treasures Gallery in Canberra.

The playbill’s history and its cultural significance, along with the story of how this fragile piece of paper found its way back to Australia – complete with an annotation by the then Lieutenant-Governor of NSW Phillip Gidley King, is told in The Playbill and its People: Australia’s Earliest Printed Document by Gillian Russell.

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