State Library of South AustraliaState Library of South Australia

"An uncommon man..."


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Catalogue record

Format : Book

Donated by Thomas Holland

Between 2001 and 2005 the State Library of South Australia received a wonderful donation from Mr Thomas Holland of rare childhood books and games from the 1920s and 1930s. All the books are inscribed, some from Grandma or 'Father Christmas' whilst one is inscribed by Tommy himself, aged 5.
These items provide a unique record of the childhood interests of a South Australian boy growing up through the social prism of Federation, the aftermath of the World War I and the effects of The Great Depression.

The books Thomas read were the classics, science, adventure, exploration, history plus popular literature such as Milne, Barrie, Lofting and Defoe. The subjects of his games were British Empire, flight adventure, racing and exploration.

Through this collection we can contemplate Thomas' childhood and consider the pieces in the context of his adulthood.

Mr Holland was born in Adelaide 16th June 1921 and lived at Glenelg and Millswood. As a boy and young person he was an exceptional Prince Alfred scholar, a chorister, musician, thespian, Sunday School teacher and school Cadet.

As an adult he became an Airman, receiving his wings on his 21st Birthday after training in Africa (with the odd mishap) and embarked on many successful missions during World War II.

Post-War he became a flight instructor and a scholar again at Sydney University. He married June Russell in a ceremony on New Year's Eve, 1945. They had four sons and two daughters. In 1950 he commenced a 30 year career as a Diplomat.

Thomas died in Canberra in January 2006, only a year after the Library received the last of his childhood things.

In an obituary Holland's daughter Rosemary was quoted as saying he was 'an uncommon man...[with] a profound sense of all that really matters, he was guided by principle, strength of character, a restless spirit and insatiable curiosity'.

These pieces came to the State Library of South Australia following a collaboration between knowledgeable and attentive people resulting in the exhibiting of this rare collection which connects us to the life story of this 'uncommon man'.

To thank for this marvelous story we have:

  • The Late Mr Thomas Venables Holland, Mrs June Holland and family
  • David Cornish, Executive Officer, Prince Alfred College Foundation Inc
  • Valerie Sitters, Emeritus Curator, Children's Literature Research Collection
  • The late Bronwyn Halliday, former Director of the State Library of South Australia

Items on display are:

The chummy book : for all boys and girls who are good chums packed full of fun by Edward Shirley and lots of other folks London ; Edinburgh and New York : Thomas Nelson and Sons, Ltd., [1918?]

The jolly book edited by Edwin Chisholm London ; Edinburgh and New York : Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd., [1928]

Jackson, G. Gibbard (George Gibbard) The world's railways ; illustrated by Barnard Way, edited by Capt. Edric Vredenburgetails London ; Paris ; New York : Raphael Tuck & Sons, Ltd., [1927]

The wonder book of science contributions by Sir Arthur Shipley, Andrew C.D. Crommelin, Swale Vincent, David Owen, H.H. Thomas, J.R. Ainsworth-Davis, and other scientists; general editor: Harry Golding ; with twelve colour plates and nearly three hundred illustrations London and Melbourne : Ward, Lock & Co., Limited, [1934]

Havell, H. L. (Herbert Lord) Stories from the Iliad London ; Bombay ; Sydney : George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., 1933

Mowbray, John, The feud at Fennell's : a school story London ; Toronto ; Melbourne and Sydney ; Cassell and Company, Limited, 1930

Baikie, James, 1866-1931 Ancient Egypt London : A. and C. Black, Ltd, 1932

Mountevans, Edward Ratcliffe Garth Russell Evans, Baron, 1880-1957 South with Scott London : Published for WM Collins Sons & Co., Ltd. by the London Book Co. Ltd., [1919?]

The Bairn's budget London ; Glasgow ; Bombay : Blackie and Son Limited, [1927]

Ellis, Edward Sylvester, 1840-1916 River and forest London : Cassell and Company, [1924?]

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