Since the beginning of time, tales of travel, both real and imagined, have been created in order to make sense of the world. Upon each new geographic discovery, imaginations have been sparked and have given rise to stories of the weird and wonderful. From the Age of Discovery to today, travellers have published their accounts for eager audiences of scientists and ‘armchair travellers’, and writers have used these as springboards for fictional works. In Australia, many of the books we hold dear recount journeys throughout the land in order to gain understandings of nation and self.
This exhibition takes viewers on a journey through a range of historical accounts, travel books and literary works from the Rare Books Collection of Monash University Library, which began, fittingly, with the purchase, in the 1960s, of David Woolley’s valuable collection of books by Jonathan Swift. Since then, it has grown to be large and varied, but has maintained a collecting emphasis on Swift’s works and those of his contemporaries such as Daniel Defoe and Alexander Pope. In recent years these have been joined by works of science fiction, artists’ books, children’s literature and poetry, many of which offer new ways of exploring physical worlds as well as those of the mind.
Tall Tales and True: Journeys real and imagined was officially launched at the Sir Louis Matheson Library on 11 July 2017. Guest speaker Cathrine Harboe-Ree (former University Librarian, Monash University Library) gave the opening speech. Read the full speech.