Reading Time: 3 minutes
Dr. Paramita tells us about Shakespeare memorabilia that she found in Sydney, Australia. We commemorate the Bard’s birthday, today. An exclusive for Different Truths.
In the Summer of 2015, we had gone for a vacation in Australia. We toured many states and Sydney was our first stop. I love visiting the well-known libraries of whatever place I go to. So naturally, we visited the State Library of New South Wales, which is the oldest in Australia built in 1826. It has a heritage listed special collection.
Among all the other things, the Shakespeare Room fascinated me the most. This room is located in the Mitchell Wing of the State Library.
I came to know that they have a special library walk the next day. So cutting short my other plans I went down to the library for this special walk. Among all the other things, the Shakespeare Room fascinated me the most. This room is located in the Mitchell Wing of the State Library. Let me share a little story about Mitchell. He was a very rich man who used to collect books from all over Sydney and other places. He wanted to donate all his books to the library on the condition that they build a bigger building otherwise he would give away the books to the Sydney University. Ultimately the library could make arrangements and the books came to them.
The Shakespeare Society of North South Wales met in 1912 to plan for the commemoration of the 300th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in April 1916. A lavish ball and other activities raised about 500 pounds to establish a memorial library and commission a statue of the famous poet and playwright. World War I delayed the construction but it was built in the early 1940s.
Shakespeare Room room was made of Tasmanian Oak and black wood treated to look like English Oak.
I got into the Shakespeare Room. The room was made of Tasmanian Oak and black wood treated to look like English Oak. The coat of arms of Shakespeare was at the top of the entrance and the coat of arms of Elizabeth I was inside the room near the doorway with the motto.
“Always the same”. The room is designed in the style of the Tudor period. The plaster ceiling is modelled on Cardinal Wolsey’s closet at Hampton Court Palace. The design of the ceiling features Prince of Wales feathers, Tudor roses, rosettes, mermen and mermaids, dolphins and fleurs-de-lis (lilies).
A sliver of wood at the back proclaimed Shakespeare wood. Our guide told us that when trees at Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of the bard was cut down a neighbour started cutting the trees in small pieces and selling them as Shakespeare Wood.
I was attracted to a three-legged chair at the corner. A sliver of wood at the back proclaimed Shakespeare wood. Our guide told us that when trees at Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of the bard was cut down a neighbour started cutting the trees in small pieces and selling them as Shakespeare Wood. A black marble bust of Shakespeare was kept just behind the chair. It looked very different from the painting we see of Shakespeare. There were writings of four stages of his in the room. An English teak box attracted my attention. It had the insignia of Shakespeare’s family- a bird shaking off water from its feathers at the top and a spear below. Together it makes Shakespeare. His father was a glove maker and he wanted a family insignia but it was only after Shakespeare became famous was he allowed a family insignia.
The other corner had a bookstand with the third version of Shakespeare’s writings.
The other corner had a bookstand with the third version of Shakespeare’s writings. The outer wall had beautiful stain glass paintings of the seven ages of man from Act II, Scene VII of the play “As you like it”. It was crafted by Arthur Benfield. The glass pane below had some blue tiny glasses to prove that nothing but God can be perfect.
My romantic mind was overwhelmed to know the presence of Shakespeare in Australia.
Photos sourced by the author