Book Review: The Man Who Lost Himself

Book Review: The Man Who Lost Himself

Review by Michael Canavan
the man who lost himself

Be they Nigerian or phony Tax Officers, they invariably seek to cheat you. Invariably, occasionally, one comes along so cheeky that it becomes a Ripping Yarn, immortal even.

Such was the Tichborne Inheritance. Feckless young Roger Tichborne disappears at sea, believed drown-then again, maybe not. Years later, newspaper adverts appear seeking details: in Wagga, Tom Castro [or is that Arthur Horton?] takes note.

Boldly going forth, and acquiring friends and bankrollers, he stakes his claim to the sizeable inheritance. After a solid start, doubts arise: does he resemble Roger? [facially-mmm; girthwise-no]. He cannot speak French. Indecision.

Two trials later, lasting a collective 291 days [the Final Addresses in the second trial occupied a collective 62 days], the final verdict was delivered in 35 minutes.

A comedown from the time that pictures of The Claimant outsold those of the Monarch.

Robyn Annear’s The Man Who Lost Himself takes us from Villa Castro to Tichborne Hall, from the mountains of South America to the flats of the Murrumbidgee:  the pace is maintained as various opportunists seek to get their dibs on a slice of the inheritance.

It was an Event: nothing was left undone to secure the 140kg “Jolly Sir Roger” his inheritance. Crowd funding supplied the creature comforts of The Claimant [as he was referred to once legal proceedings get underway] and, in an outstanding PR coup, 1500 Tichborne Bonds were issued to enable wealthy True Believers to contribute. A superb potboiler, “The Tichborne Romance” titillated the lower orders. The British populace was enthralled, being treated daily to saturation press coverage of [well recompensed] Colourful Colonials bearing, often wildly contradictory, evidence for and against. Sorting the wheat from the chaff, then as now, was immensely entertaining

Beneath the bluff and bluster, who was The Claimant? He grew into the role, refining his public persona, charming supporters and drawing in doubters. Only those close to him harboured lingering doubts

The Man Who Lost Himself is superb, a single-sitting read. Like a good detective thriller, the reader is gently guided into making-up their own mind regarding the evidence regarding The Claimant. There is never any real doubt as to the final outcome, but, as in any Ripping Yarn, it was done [and written about] with style and panache. The verbosity and colourful language from all concerned made me wonder: if it wasn’t so serious it would make a wonderful comedy.

It remains so well-known because it seems so modern: a core group of supporters sustaining the faith, combined with a flair for publicity has its modern counterpart, alas, not nearly as colourful as the original.

It finally ended in 1898.

The Claimant died on April Fool’s Day.

Meet the volunteers: Siti Suryanata

Meet the volunteers: Siti Suryanata

Welcome back to the PMI for 2020. We’re kicking of this year’s Instituting the Past with a post from one of our newer volunteers Siti- who has been doing an amazing job repairing our damaged books. 


My name is Siti Suryanata.  I am a newbie at PMI.  I joined the PMI in September 2019.  Mostly what I do is book restorations.  Repair them, put in a new binder, or glue them back together to give the book a new life. It feels amazing to do all of that. I am grateful to have found the PMI in so many ways. I really enjoy the environment and great people I volunteer with.

I started volunteering in my children’s library school.  It was fun and I really enjoyed doing some shelving, covering new soft and hard-cover books, restoring books and designing artwork for book sales.

In the past, I helped individuals with low incomes to do their tax returns through VITA and joined Meals on Wheels as a volunteer driver. I currently volunteer for Samarinda Aged Care in Ashburton, along with PMI.  Amazing to know that we can learn a lot by volunteering!

I got married and migrated to the USA in 2000.  I have 2 great children, Jane and Jason. I raised my children in a beautiful town called Essex, Vermont for 16 years. Then, I moved to Melbourne in June 2019 to accompany my children to continue their studies.

In Vermont, as a mom, I stayed home with my children during the day and worked at night in various company such as IBM, Green Mountain Coffee and JP Morgan Chase. I like to meet people, talk and laugh. Meet new people everywhere, make friends.

I love Melbourne! I studied in Melbourne and earned a diploma in Business Computing back in 1988 then continued my study in Indonesia and earned a Law degree from Atmajaya University in 1993. After I graduated, I worked in a bank for about 4 years and switched my career to work as a Royalty and Publishing Manager with Sony Music. It was fun meeting local and international Artists.

In my spare time, I do photography and drawing.

I love cooking as well.

Meet the Volunteers: Irene

Meet the Volunteers: Irene

Irene is our longest serving volunteer, she’s been volunteering for 11 years. The photo is of her receiving her long term volunteer award at the Volunteer High Tea earlier this yearIrene

I started volunteering at the old PMI building in High Street in January 2008 with 4/5 others as I had past experience volunteering in school libraries and after retiring I was interested in helping the PMI.

This is a short description of some of our book processing duties…

We cover different books – soft covers with contact, hard covers with clear plastic and dust covers with a combination of brown paper and plastic. Our group prints spine labels attaches them in the correct place, ensures a barcode is placed on the back, a “date due” slip is inside the back and a “secret” tattle inserted.  The tattle triggers an alarm if the book “walks” out the door by-passing the borrowing counter.

Processing books needs much dexterity, precision and patience especially using contact which can eventuate in a very sticky situation in certain weather conditions.

We are among the first to see new acquisitions in the library and the latest periodicals.  However, the most memorable is the “Watson” collection. A bequest, which took several years to process the many books.

Our small book processing group enjoys meeting each week and working while participating in the lively discussions which emanate.

We hope to continue for many more years.

Book Review: Blooms and Brushstrokes by Penelope Curtin and Tansy Curtin

Book Review: Blooms and Brushstrokes by Penelope Curtin and Tansy Curtin

Review by Penny Wooodward


Subtitled A floral history of Australian Art, this glorious book celebrates and identifies the flowers in artworks by Australian artists. An A-Z of flowers, anemone to zinnia, with nearly 100 beautiful reproductions of paintings and photographs by well-known artists such as Tom Roberts, Margaret Olley and Ellis Rowan and less well-known painters such as ex-convict artist WB Gould and his stunning vase of poppies.

A diverse range of both introduced and native flowers are depicted, from a single button hole carnation in a self-portrait by William Dobell, to a huge cottage garden with hollyhocks painted in 1835 by John Glover. It’s hard to pick favourites, but two of mine are photographs. The first by Christian Thompson, a Bidjara man from Mount Tambor, Queensland. Titled Purified by Fire it is a self-portrait, depicting iconic and beautiful Australian flowers and foliage, like everlasting daisies, and banksias, and in the middle we can just see a face with flames in his eyes.  The second is the cover photo, Blinded, by Polixeni Papapetrou. This luscious highly coloured photo is part of a series called Eden.

The text discusses the flower/s and their history, the painting and the artist. Mother and daughter authors Penelope and Tansy Curtin, provide a detailed background story of the chosen flowers and comment on the part each artist has played in Australian art more generally and the relevance of each painting depicted. This gives deep insights into why the art works are important, how they were created and the artist who created them.  If you want to actually look at any of the original works, a comprehensive List of Works is found at the end of the book, including in which gallery each artwork is hung (although some are from private collections).

I have learnt so much about the flowers, the artworks and especially the artists. As a botanist it is usually the flowers that interest me when I see floral art, but dipping into this book has ensured that I will look differently at floral art, every time I visit a gallery in the future. An important, engaging, beautiful book for lovers of gardens, nature, history and art.

Book Review: All Mine by Peter Edwards

Book Review: All Mine by Peter Edwards

Review by Renee Rollestone

All mine

The story opens in a rural New South Wales town in the mid-eighties. We are introduced to the Caruso Family who are a major organised crime family with ties to every government agency in the country.

We are then taken to present day where Carlo Caruso is in hiding in Canada, wanted for a grisly double murder of two undercover policeman. After seven years, it is decided that a risky transfer back home is necessary for Carlo as his mother is dying and wants to see her youngest son one last time.

What follows is an intricately written story with a formerly famous model, a widowed hermit architect and bikie gangs all coming together thanks to the actions of Carlo Caruso in his past and his present form. The Great Ocean Road and inner-city Melbourne are an evocative backdrop to this saga of obsession, crime and inner demons.

Edwards makes a strong point with his characters that it is the actions and choices that they make throughout their life which define their future happiness. Not opportunities, fame or money. Carlo’s inability to fully recognise his family’s efforts and risks in bringing him home are a common theme throughout the book. It is also a great observation on the consequences of obsession, the horrific impact on the object of it and how one person’s single-minded focus can shatter the lives of many, with lasting scars.

Edwards introduces the characters with care, taking the time for the reader to get to know the protagonists and their pasts. The tension picks up throughout the novel, leaving the reader desperate to get to the end and find out what will be the ending for our characters.

An enjoyable read, a bit slow to start but worth pushing through to the end.

4 out 5 stars.



Collection Spotlight: The Ragtrade in Melbourne

Collection Spotlight: The Ragtrade in Melbourne

melbourne ragtrade

Hi there I am Katherine Davis, I am studying at Victoria University Footscray and completing my placement at Prahran Mechanics Institute for my library Diploma. I am originally from Melbourne but have lived in Ballarat for the past 10 years, I love the regional lifestyle and Ballarat’s history and streetscape.

Before Ballarat I lived and worked in Abbotsford in the textile and clothing manufacturing industry.

Abbotsford and the Richmond environs were home to many dyehouses that produced fabrics for major stores such as Target, Myer and BigW to smaller labels like Stussy, Ripcurl, Volcom and local school uniform makers. The dyeing of fabric and manufacturing of clothes around Abbotsford and Richmond was a vibrant industry in the 8os and 90s. If you are interested in the history of the ragtrade in Melbourne, our collection at PMI will not disappoint. The story of the clothing and footwear trade in Melbourne is a fascinating one.

Here are a few of my favourites from PMI to start with

My life in the Rag trade By Fred Wilkinson

Fibre and Fabric: the wool, cotton textile and allied industries in Melbourne’s West by Gary Vines

Are you a fan of vintage patterns and sewing?

 Madame Weigel : the woman who clothed the Australasian colonies / Veronica R. Lampkin.

Stories of family businesses.

Not by myself: The Fletcher Jones story. by Fletcher Jones.

Pelaco: a visual history of the Pelaco company and brand, a century down the track.

Woven threads: A family story

Dear reader out there do you have some stories of the ragtrade in Melbourne to share?

Or do you have stories about your favourite source in Melbourne to shop for that special wedding silk or button? Does anyone remember Franke Stuart in Hawthorn or the Job Warehouse in Bourke Street?

Meet The Staff: Chris Moysey-Barker: Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Meet The Staff: Chris Moysey-Barker: Marketing and Communications Coordinator


I’m Chris, I started working here as the Marketing and Communications Coordinator in 2016, having previously worked in public libraries and law (with a short stint in a marketing firm somewhere in between). I am part-time, and work in the library on Mondays and Tuesdays.

I have been working in libraries long enough to vividly remember the day when the library I worked for got its first internet enabled public computer – yes just one, it was a big event! It is amazing to think how much libraries have grown and changed since then.

My very first job was as a Library Shelver at my local library, when I was 15. It was a great job and enabled me to indulge in my love of books. I continued working at the library as a Library Officer after I finished High School. As previously mentioned, I left libraries for a little while and worked in various law firms, but I couldn’t stay away. I returned in 2007 and began studying an information studies degree a couple of years later. I have worked across many different library roles including collections, cataloguing and information services. I moved into library marketing in 2012 and have completed many marketing and design short courses. Library marketing has allowed me to combine my love of books and information with my creative side. I have always loved drawing and designing, so to be able to combine my two interests in my day to day work has been fantastic.

In 2015 I had my daughter and obtained my Associate Degree in Information Studies the same year. Studying with a newborn was certainly a new experience, and not one I would like to repeat!

In my role here, I coordinate our annual events program and the promotion of library services and programs – this is done through a variety of different mediums including our website, social media and other digital media, media releases and printed collateral. I manage our website and design all of the library collateral including brochures, posters, graphics, the Recent Additions and our newsletter. My role also involves analysing and interpreting lots of statistics and data from event and survey evaluations to web traffic.

I am part of the Public Libraries Victoria LibMark Special Interest Group. This group is made up of fellow library marketers from across Victoria. We meet on a bimonthly basis to catch up and discuss anything and everything in the world of library marketing. It is a great opportunity to network and share ideas, helping each of us to better promote our respective libraries.

Like most of the staff here at the PMI, my role has grown since 2016. In addition to the marketing and communications, I also coordinate our library systems – which includes liaising with our library management system vendor to ensure systems are working correctly, or to implement updates or changes. This can often involve large projects, such as the library communications project (which you can read about in our February Newsletter) and updating our membership renewal notice process.

At the moment I am coordinating the redevelopment of our website. This is a project I am very excited about, as it means our website will be more accessible and easier to use for our members and other users. Most importantly the site will be responsive on portable devices, meaning it will display properly on mobile phones and tablets.

While I manage the Facebook page overall, the whole team contributes posts to ensure a variety of content and different interests are presented to our followers. I hope to implement a PMI Instagram next year and look forward to being able to promote the PMI to another audience.

We are a small team here at the PMI but we are always collaborating and constantly discussing the best way we can promote the wonderful resources and programs we have to offer.