Biblionews has sadly lapsed back into lateness again, but this year that has been directly attributable to my being away overseas for most of the first half of 2000. The March issue put together by Richard Overell was sent to me in Germany for proofreading, but I was away on university work in Ireland and Britain when it arrived, so that it had to wait some weeks till my return from there to be dealt with. Fortunately, once I did get to do my proofreading, I was able to pass the issue to one of our young members, Siew Jin Ooi, for the final proofread. Siew Jin happened to be living not too far away in the German city of Mainz and managed to find more errors that I, for all my close reading, had missed, as has happened so often before with checking by our Editorial Assistants. It was certainly worth all the effort, since the Melbourne March issue was a particularly good and interesting one.
One great source of satisfaction for me – and doubtless the rest of the Society – this year has been the appearance finally of
Fellows of the Book, our long awaited volume of essays by some two dozen current members to commemorate 50 years of the appearance of Biblionews since it began life in very modest format back in 1947. It was originally envisaged that the book appear in 1997, but my workload kept blocking that. However, as I point out in the Preface to the book, Biblionews ceased to appear for about three years in all during its existence, so 2000 is closer to the ac-tual 50 years than 1997 would have been – a nice piece of rationalisation!
One cause for regret is that some rather unfortunate misprints were not eliminated from the book, especially in my Preface and Introduction and in one of the earlier articles that the author, being away overseas, did not get to check again himself. I was at the time battling to write up a large research grant application at the university as well as preparing for my longish absence in Europe and ended up, just a few days before I left, inveigling our young member Fredericka van der Lubbe into a Double Bay cafe to do the final proofread while I kept looking at my watch, ready to snatch the thing away when she finished. No wonder that, though she found errors, some still managed to slip through. I hereby apologise for giving her such an impossible task in the time and circumstances obtaining. An errata slip covering any significant misprints will be sent out with this issue of the journal for recipients of the book (of which, incidentally, we finally had 320 copies, not 300 printed) to insert in it.
This issue of Biblionews is mainly taken up by Warwick Hirst’s marvellously interesting paper on convict escapes, given at this year’s March meeting in Sydney. Warwick works in the manuscripts section of the State Library of New South Wales. I am grateful too for the snippets by Alan Rickard and Frank Carleton, who have for years been loyal contributors of articles to the journal.
Otherwise there is a review of a book on medicine and the book trade contributed by Ben Haneman, who is both our President and, appropriately, a member of the Royal Australian College of Physicians. The book is one from the U.S. publisher Oak Knoll Press, which has been most generous in sending copies of its books for review by members of the Society. Readers can expect further reviews of this firm’s publications in coming issues of Biblionews, and may offer their services as reviewers by contacting me.