The mysterious Mr Alexander H. Shaw


While Central London enjoyed the spoils of the rise of the printing industry in the late eighteenth century, the Strand became a hub for the book trade and fashionable buyers, and a quiet man was seemingly swallowed up. How can it be that so very little is known about Mr Alexander Shaw, of No. 379, Strand—the man for whom the now celebrated book of tapa cloth samples collected by Captain James Cook, was ‘arrainged and printed’?

Chasing the polar bear

As a child my favourite animal was the polar bear. It may have been because it exemplified the polar opposite of my experience growing up in steamy, tropical Brisbane. It may have also been the not-so-subliminal connection to ice-cream through the image of the frosty Paul’s polar bear. Whatever it was, it has persisted. Although, a love of animals in all forms has grown throughout my life as I’ve become more aware of the depredations humans enforce on the animal kingdom.  

Meet Judith

Judith has just completed a project with NLA Publishing researching images from the National Library’s collection from the 1960s and each Wednesday takes people on tours through our Treasures Gallery. She is a volunteer here at the Library—and because it is National Volunteer Week, we decided to find out more about her.

Hairy wild men in the margins

As you may recall I wrote some time ago about the Hairy Wild Man from Botany Bay who is currently residing in the Treasures Gallery—see also the December NLA Magazine. You may also have seen publicity connected with the ambitious recent acquisition, for a record price of the Rothschild Prayer Book by Australian businessman and collector extraordinaire Kerry Stokes AC. 

A thoroughly dissolute life?

Like many early reputations, that of Judge-Advocate Richard Atkins (1745–1820) is being revised as new information comes to light. Governor Bligh reviled him ‘a disgrace to human jurisprudence’ who pronounced ‘sentences of death … in moments of intoxication’. John Macarthur denounced him for being ‘a public cheater living in the most boundless dissipation’ who was ‘addicted to liquor, immorality and insolvency’.


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