What will she wear? A 1923 Royal wedding

There is considerable curiosity about the dress that Catherine Middleton will wear at her wedding to Prince William today.  In 1923, another Royal wedding took place in late April at Westminster Abbey when William’s great-grandmother married the then Duke of York.

The Advertiser reported on the event the day after the ceremony and included a detailed description of the bride’s dress.

The Advertiser – 27 April 1943

The Duke of York and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon – 26 April 1923

The Bride’s Dress.

The bride’s wedding dress was of ivory moire mousme, designed with extreme simplicity. She wished specially for a rich shade of ivory, and the material was dyed accordingly. Following classical lines, the dress was cut in one piece, reaching almost to the ground, and with the waist line slightly raised. The sleeves just covered the top of the shoulders. The front of the bodice was decorated with four bands of pearl trimming, a similar one being used to decorate the front of the skirt. The wedding veil, caught at each ear with a white rose and a spray of orange blossom, which supplied the only color foil to the creamy whiteness, consisted of old lace belonging to the Queen. The train was of Nottingham lace, the back of the dress having a panel of silver tissue.

HT to The Fashion Notes blog for the photograph.  

comic strips in daily newspapers

Daily comic strips have been appearing in newspapers for around 100 years since William Randolph Hearst introduced a full page of comics in his New York paper.  Here’s the Courier Mail strip from 15 November 1949 featuring Alex Gurney‘s  – Bluey and Curley and Stan Cross‘  Wally and the Major.

the great Australian poetry hoax

The Ern Mally edition of Angry Penguins.This 1944 Autumn edition of Angry Penguins featured a painting of Sidney Nolan’s on the cover.  (Image from ABC Radio National’s Bookshow where you can also find an audio download about the hoax poems included in the publication).

Angry Penguins was the creation of Max Harris and his editorial committee – John Reed, Sunday Reed and Sidney Nolan.  This edition featured the work of Ern Malley whose work had been introduced to Harris by his ‘sister’ Ethel.  But things weren’t necessarily as they seemed.

The Mail – 17 June 1944

Mr. Brian Elliott, lecturer in Australian literature at the Adelaide University, has challenged Mr. Max Harris to prove the existence of Ern Malley, a poet ‘discovered’ by Harris. (The Max Harris link is to the Professional Historians Association of South Australia)

The mystery of Ern Malley is causing concern in literary circles not only in Adelaide, but through out Australia. The reason is that the poems are good, whoever wrote them. Some of them were included in the anthology of Australian verse collected by the American poet, Harry Roskelenko, and published in New York by Henry Vinnal.

AN alleged life story of Malley, together with all his poems, appears in the latest issue of ‘Angry Penguins.’ published by Reed & Harris.   ………… Harris says:— ‘Recently I was sent two poems from a Miss Ethel Malley, who wrote saying they were found among her brother’s possessions after his death on July 23, 1943. Someone suggested to her that they might be of value, and that she send them to me for an opinion. ‘At this stage I knew nothing about the author at all, but I was immediately impressed that here was a poet of tremendous power working through a disciplined and restrained kind of statement into the deepest wells of human ex perience.’ ………… Adelaide University students who have seen the original of this letter and the original poems say that if it is a hoax it is an elaborately prepared one, as these documents appear to be genuine.

James McAuley and Harold Stewart were the young hoaxers.

The Morning Bulletin – Rockhampton – 4 July 1944 and Adelaide Advertiser of the same date reported on the bogus doctorate awarded to the fictitious poet.


The two cheerful and healthy-minded young graduates of the Sydney University who perpetrated the much-discussed “Ern Malley” hoax, and who thus blew to smithereens the irritating pretensions and incomprehensible philosophy of a school of so-called “modern poetry,” are deserving, perhaps, of some higher distinction than the bogus doctorate conferred upon them by “the Sydney University Oxometrical Society.”   But the authors of the “Ern Malley” documents, who labored so hard to make his pretended “poems” the most arrant gibberish, and whose highest expectations must have been exceeded when a laboriously bad skit on bad verse was hailed as the work of  “a giant of contemporary Australian poetry,” will not wear the trappings, if any, of  “doctors of oxometry,” with an ill grace. The one thing that remains to be thought of, is the invention of a fitting academic award for the poetasters and other literary quidnuncs [a self-important newsmonger and gossip] who took the fictitious “Ern Malley” to their bosoms, swearing that he was a genius after their own hearts, and implying, in the usual way, that all who ventured to pronounce him childish and incomprehensible, would but betray their own pathetic lack of aesthetic taste and spiritual perception. A wooden spoon or a leather medal, might conceivably meet the case.

Sleepless in Sydney

This letter to the editor definitely has the vibe of being written by a sleep deprived curmudgeon.

Bell’s Life in Sydney – 29 November 1851

Original Correspondence.


To the Editors of Bell’s Life in Sydney.

GENTLEMEN. – Last week you put an excellent article in your paper on the above invention. Will you use your influence with the “By-Law Committee of the Corporation” to abate the   following nuisances :-

1. Butcher’s’ carts rattling through the streets, so that no man with a decent bred horse has any chance of not being either run against, or run down-brown !”‘

2. Baker’s carts, “or turnovers,” that invariably go the wrong side, ” rolling ” over everything that comes their way.

3. Milk and “ginger beer” carts, – (also) – i.e. from bad springs, and loaded with milk cans or aer-rated bottles, being the reverse of  “a pig’s whisper” in the thereabouts of the streets of Sydney.

4. Grocers’ Carts – More furious drivers than any. Some of these have proprietors, very influential “men of the Ward.”  I will, on division of the house, leave these out rather than risk the foss-for-us influence. These carts are particularly noticed on the South Head Road, and are fair facts to be noticed and described.

5. Breaks. Not only from the vulgar jingling noise they make, but from their reckless mode of exposing themselves to the vigilance of a certain person called the V.I.N., or Vigilant Inspector (and) No mistake! I have expected this information long ago. They had better take care.

6. Night-man’s Carts that for half a mile are heard only to disturb and awake you to the sense of “ammoniacal suffocation” the rest of the night.

Yours truly,


A pig’s whisper – “A very short space of time; properly a grunt – which doesn’t take long” – Brewers’ Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.

A remembrance and a recommendation on Anzac Day

Private George Elliott. Died 8 June 1917 at Messines Ridge.  He was 28 years old and a stretcher bearer.

George with his parents and four sisters – before his enlistment.

Yvonne Perkins on her Stumbling Through the Past blog shares her research on the early commemorations of Anzac Day.  Well worth a read on this Anzac Day 2011.

A vision for Canberra – the Griffins

On 23 May 1912, the winner of the prize for designing Australia’s new national capital was announced by newspapers across the country.  The story of the competition can be found on the website An Ideal City.

Chicago’s Walter Burley Griffin (in collaboration with his wife Marian Mahony Griffin) worked from 1914 to 1920 on the realisation of the plans, before moving on to other projects in Australia and elsewhere.  The Griffin Society is a great starting place for more information.

The West Australian – 8 June 1912

Turning their backs on Maralinga

Maralinga was described in this Sun Herald article on 5 Dec 1954 as “a remote and uninhabited part of South Australia”.

Spin and deceit, naivety and ignorance are not new.

For a perspective 50 years on read this article by John Keane in The Age on 11 May 2003.

ABC TV’s Message Stick televised the Anangu people’s story in October 2009.  It shows men turning their backs on an atomic explosion.  A picture is worth a thousand words, as they say.

Australia’s first national park .. and the world’s second

After Yellowstone National Park in the United States of America was created in 1872, Sydney’s first National Park became the second national park in the world.  The National Park was not named Royal National Park until 1954.

Sydney Morning Herald – 29 March 1879

……The credit of the idea of dedicating a large tract of land for such a purpose is principally due to Sir John Robertson, who has thought of the project for years, and no land seemed more suitable than that near Port Hacking, which presents all the attractiveness of varied and beautiful scenery, and abounds with game…..  it was decided to dedicate 18,000 acres having more than five miles frontage to the Pacific Ocean (including Wattamolla Boat Harbour and other well known fishing grounds), over ten miles frontage to the main and southern arms of Port Hacking River (including the wide part of the river), and more than four miles frontage to Woronora Creek, a fine navigable arm of George’s River. The scenery in these localities is exceedingly attractive, and Port Hacking, the lower part of George’s River, and many spots on the coast line of the land which will form part of the park, abound with fine fish. …….. The park, [..] is to be called ” The National Park,” a better name than which could not be given ……..





The website of Friends of the Royal tells more of the park’s story.

Words : bludger

Next time you hear the word bludger or are tempted to use it to describe someone, think about its derivation (now obsolete in usage).

The entry for bludger in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable reads

(Aust.)  Originally (19th century) a pimp, but later any scrounger or one profiting without risk.  In World War I to bludge on the flag meant to slack in the army.

The Australian National University’s Australian National Dictionary Centre has a most comprehensive derivation, description and history of the word bludger.

Sunday train timetables in Sydney – 1879

As long as there have been trains, there have been complaints about timetables.