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The National Library hosts a program of events that highlight aspects of our collections. If you missed a talk or conference, you can listen to and read highlights here.

The National Library hosts a program of events that highlight aspects of our collections. If you missed a talk or conference, you can listen to and read highlights here.
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The National Library hosts a program of events that highlight aspects of our collections. If you missed a talk or conference, you can listen to and read highlights here.




Bold Women in Print

Curator Dr Grace Blakeley-Carroll looks at the experiences of early twentieth-century Australian female writers Henry Handel Richardson, Miles Franklin and Christina Stead and the publishing industry, as revealed through a new display in the Treasures Gallery.


Hal Missingham's Fully Bound

On retiring from the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1971, Director Hal Missingham received an extraordinary gift: a bound volume containing contributions from over 200 Australian artists and cultural figures. Join Treasures Curator Nat Williams, Hal’s son Peter Missingham and publisher and curator Lou Klepac to explore this fascinating volume and celebrate the production of the new Beagle Press book Hal Missingham: Artist Author Photographer. A Treasures Gallery Access Program,...


Dramatising Taboos

In this creative presentation, Timothy Daly and actors will show how dormant historical material is turned into viable and exciting contemporary theatre. Timothy Daly is one of Australia’s most internationally-produced playwrights with a string of national and international productions to his credit and featuring leading companies and actors, including Geoffrey Rush in The Don’s Last Innings, Cate Blanchett in Kafka Dances, and Jacki Weaver in Derrida in Love. Kafka Dances has won over a...


Author Talk with Alex Miller

For lovers of Australian fiction, Alex Miller’s novels are essential reading, with writing that reveals his wit, wisdom and keen observations of life’s complexities. In conversation with author and poet Adrian Caesar, Alex Miller will reflect on how love, and the struggle to live a creative life, inspired his exquisitely personal new novel, The Passage of Love. Alex has won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and is a two-time winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award. In association with...


Enlightening the Child

What were Chinese children reading about Australia and the world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries? Dr Shih-Wen (Sue) Chen uses the National Library of Australia’s rich collection of reading materials for children published by Protestant missionaries and Chinese reformers to discuss how texts and cultures were shared between Britain, America and China during a period of uncertainty and political unrest in Chinese history. Dr Shih-Wen (Sue) Chen is a National Library of...


Fellowship Presentation

National Library Fellow in Australian Literature, author Dr Gabrielle Carey explores the inspiring and unique influence the Australian writer Ivan Southall had on a generation of young readers. In the 1960s and 70s Ivan Southall’s books for young adults sold in the hundreds of thousands and he remains significant in the imaginations of countless Australians today. But Southall was also an object of controversy, his novels criticised for being too dark and pessimistic. Southall argued that...


Ray Mathew Lecture 2017

Novelist Kim Scott reveals how reclaiming Aboriginal language and story may offer a narrative of shared history and contribute to social transformation. The Ray Mathew Lecture was established in 2009 as a major annual event for the National Library of Australia. It is named in honour of the Australian poet and playwright, Ray Mathew (1929–2002), who left Australia in the late 1960s, never to return. Mathew spent most of the remainder of his life living in the New York apartment of his...


Dombrovskis: Journeys into the Wild

Former Australian Greens leader Dr Bob Brown and curator Matthew Jones offer an introduction to the Library's exhibition Dombrovskis: Journeys into the Wild. Peter Dombrovskis was one of the world’s foremost wilderness photographers. His powerful, reflective and deeply personal images of the unique Tasmania wilderness had a lasting impact, changing the way Australians think about their environment. The National Library has over 3,000 Dombrovskis transparencies in its collection, and has...


Author Talk with Judy Horacek

Random Life finds one of Australia’s favourite cartoonists at the height of her creative career; still making us think and laugh. It is full of all the things we have known and loved about Judy’s work over the years – her concerns for the environment, social justice and feminism, along with her off-the-wall quirkiness and trademark flights of fancy. Join Judy in conversation with Alex Sloan as she explores the cartoons that will make you laugh a lot, and occasionally weep.


Author Talk with Rusty Young

For seven years Rusty Young, author of the international bestseller Marching Powder, lived and worked in Colombia, where he interviewed Special Forces soldiers, snipers, undercover intelligence agents and members of two vicious terrorist organisations. The result was Colombiano.Rusty speaks to Karen Middleton about the path that lead to his latest book.


The Secrets She Keeps

From the internationally bestselling author who Stephen King called ‘an absolute master’ of the psychological thriller comes a riveting suspense novel about the unlikely friendship between two pregnant women that asks: how far would you go to create the perfect family? In association with Hachette Australia


Fellowship Presentation

The alliance between Axis Powers during World War II brought together an unexpected coalition between Italy and Japan. Reversing decades of racist assumptions, orientalist views and diverging politics, this partnership sought to cross boundaries in order to cast the two countries as similar and united by common goals. Was this just an illusion created by war propaganda? Or did the encounter between these two countries in fact generate, at times, a sense of mutual understanding and...


Beauty in Thorns

Kate Forsyth's new novel Beauty in Thorns tells the story of love, obsession and tradegy that underlies Edward Burne-Jones' famous painted depiction of Sleeping Beauty. Discover the drama that surrounded Pre-Raphaelite Burne-Jones and the many influential women he loved. In association with Penguin Random House


Fellowship Presentation

Shōjo, the girl positioned between child and adult, is an iconic representation of femininity and girlhood in Japanese culture. A pretty and stereotypically feminine aesthetic that sometimes disguises dark and disturbing themes, shōjo has fascinated artists working in many fields from literature to manga, film to fashion, and not just in Japan. Researching the National Library’s significant contemporary shōjo collection, Masafumi Monden explores the multifaceted importance of shōjo as a...


NAIDOC Collection Talk: Our Voice

The National Library has been collecting oral histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to ensure their life stories, and personal insights are recorded for future generations. Ryan Stoker highlights a variety of interviews, social histories and folklore recordings.


NAIDOC WEEK: Our languages matter

Our manuscripts collection holds some of the earliest records of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander languages, written in the post-European contact period. Shannon Sutton provides a fragmentary glimpse of the diverse range of the hundreds of languages spoken in Australia before European contact.


Treasures Curator Talk Life & Death

Treasures Curator Nat Williams sheds light on the brief life of Dorothy English Paty. Creating two exceptional sketchbooks filled with watercolours of plants, Dorothy’s work is now held in the Library’s Rex Nan Kivell collection. The Treasures Curator is supported by Catalyst-Australian Arts and Culture Fund. A Treasures Gallery Access Program, supported by National Library Patrons.


In Conversation: Capital Ideas

This Capital Ideas event explored the causes of repeated budget projection errors. Describing how these are affecting policy choices and asking whether anything fundamental has changed that might require a rethink of how budgets are prepared. It also explored the institutional barriers to better outcomes, and the opportunities for reform. Katharine Murphy, political editor at the Guardian, and 15-year veteran of the Canberra press gallery, discussed the issues with John Daley, CEO of the...


Indigenous Lives

Discover first contact through the eyes of Indigenous people and the Europeans they adopted into their families. Professor John Maynard, Professor Victoria Haskins and National Library Curator Matthew Jones explore these encounters.


Narratives of Identity

From his London base, the enigmatic Kiwi ex-pat, Rex Nan Kivell spent much of his life voraciously collecting material documenting the European discovery and conquest of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. How did Māori in Aotearoa-New Zealand feel about being ‘discovered’ and were they ever conquered? Paul Diamond has surveyed the extensive Māori presence in the Nan Kivell and other Library collections, using his Māori heritage and knowledge to turn around the lens on European and Māori...


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