Fritz Liisberg-Jensen (d. 1926) was born in Aarhus, Denmark. He was working as a draftsman in the Department of Lands in Sydney when he met and married Annie Roberts, a music teacher from Bangor, Wales. She had taught music to the children of Lord Carrington, the Governor of New South Wales. In 1894 the Jensens built a house in Exeter, near Moss Vale, and set about clearing several acres of land and establishing an orchard. Fritz imported bulbs from Holland in order to establish his speciality nursery. After his death, Annie and her two sons, Erik and Derek, continued to run the nursery, which was something of an institution in the Southern Highlands. The two elderly bachelors sold the property in 1985.
The interior of The Cottage remained almost unchanged for 90 years. It included a Steinway piano, a canteen of silver and ivory cutlery given to Annie Jensen by Lady Carrington, and their collection of books.
The Jensen Collection was donated to the Library by Erik and Derek Jensen in 1977. The Library considered the collection a good example of a private library of a farming family in the early twentieth century.
The Jensen Collection consists of 553 books that were acquired by members of the Jensen family between about 1870 and 1943 and which were kept in The Cottage at Exeter. Most of the books are British, American and Australian imprints, including a few translations of European writers. The earliest work is Thomas Green, The Universal Herbal (1823) and the collection has a particular strength in works on botany and gardening. Other books include novels, plays, poetry, short stories, children’s books, biographies and books on religion, history, music, art, travel, animal husbandry and agriculture. There are a few titles relating to Denmark.
Among the disparate authors represented in the collection are R.M. Ballantyne, R.D. Blackmore, Thomas Carlyle, Marie Corelli, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, George Elliot, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Elizabeth Gaskell, G.A. Henty, John Lindley, Edward Lytton, H.V. Morton, Walter Scott, William Shakespeare, Alfred Wallace, Edgar Wallace and Francis Brett Young. There are also music albums of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Gounod, Handel and other composers that were acquired by Annie Roberts before her marriage. Most of the Australian books are on botanical subjects, but there are also popular works by E.J. Banfield, Rolf Boldrewood, Ion Idriess, Bernard O’Reilly and E.V. Timms.
Many of the books are signed and dated by members of the Jensen family and some are inscribed. A copy of Charles Moore, Handbook of the Flora of New South Wales (1893) is inscribed to F. Liisberg-Jensen by G.H. Reid, the New South Wales Premier, in September 1895.
The Jensen Collection has been retained as a formed collection. The call numbers have the prefix JEN.
Linda Emery, Exploring Exeter, Exeter, 1998, pp. 28–9.