The Age reports on a new play, The Future Australian Race, which features two well-known Victorian era librarians; Sir Redmond Barry and writer, Marcus Clarke, both of whom served as National Librarians during the 1870s.
Sir. Redmond Barry is one of the fathers of Melbourne, although he is more famous as the judge who sentenced Ned Kelly to hang than for the creation of Melbourne University, the State Library, the National Gallery of Victoria and Melbourne Museum. But he had another side to this upper-crust respectability. He never married his long-term mistress, Louisa Barrow, who was a lower-middle-class Irish Catholic. The couple lived apart, although she bore him four children and is buried with him.
"He loved eating, drinking and screwing around town," says playwright Sue Gore. "He was unstoppable."
Another famous early Victorian is the writer Marcus Clarke, who wrote the classic convict novel For the Term of his Natural Life. Clarke, whose love of alcohol contributed to his early death, was renowned as Melbourne's first bohemian.
He became second in charge at the library while Barry was head of the board. But unlike his patron, Clarke married and had six children and was always threatened by poverty.