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Rare Books: Recent acquisitions

Title: The wood beyond the world

Author: William Morris

Publisher: Hammersmith : Kelmscott Press

Rare Books Call no: 820.8 M877 A6/Wo


William Morris’s The Wood beyond the World was published by the Kelmscott Press in 1894. Morris was associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement during the late 19th century and he established the Kelmscott Press in 1891. His artistic aesthetic translated itself into extremely beautiful books. These items are significant because of their manner of production - Morris designed his own typefaces, made his own paper, and printed by hand - which began the modern revival of fine printing.

Title: The first lines of the practice of surgery, in the West

Author: Benjamin Hobson

Publisher: Shanghai : Ren ji yi guan 

Rare Books Call no: 617 H684F 1857

Chinese edition of an important work by Benjamin Hobson, a doctor and a missionary, entitled The First Lines of the Practice of Surgery, In the West, published in Shanghai in 1857. It covers a wide range of medical problems and remedies and also contains diagrams showing surgical procedures and medicinal plants. This book aimed to establish a strong foundation for Western medicine in China but apparently tends towards over-emphasising the superiority of Western medicine and surgical practices over traditional Chinese medicine. In keeping with his missionary ethos and as an incentive to bring Western medicine to China, Hobson offered to print the book for free if Chinese doctors or healers brought their own reams of paper to him.

Title: Cookery Book 

Format: Manuscript

Rare Books Call no: 641.5994 C773.1 1863



A manuscript cookbook from the mid-nineteenth century, which contains about 240 pages of handwritten recipes and notes on household management, including the proper laying of a Supper Table (p. 171). It looks like it’s been primarily written by the one hand and is probably of British origin. However, the last dozen pages suggest a later Australian connection. On pp. 219-220, there is a recipe for Saxe Coburg Soup, a thick creamy soup made from brussels sprouts and allegedly named to honour Prince Albert. The current reigning British monarchs changed their name from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor in 1917 as a response to anti-German sentiment during the Great War. The recipe for the soup is credited to the Cafe de Paris in Melbourne from December 1863. Melbourne’s Cafe de Paris opened in 1859 and was one of the earliest European-style restaurants to open in Melbourne. It was one of the forerunners of other French-style restaurants that became so popular through the 1890s.