LESS THAN A YEAR AFTER the death of Warren Perry the Victorian Branch of the Society mourns the disappearance of his widow Nancye. Although she claimed in the obituary she herself wrote for the Melbourne Age (edition of 19 August 2011) that she began collecting in emulation of Warren after their marriage in 1957, she was in many ways the senior member of our Society, having served for several years on the Committee. Until their physical disabilities proved to be too much of an impediment, both of them attended meetings regularly even in the early years of the present century.
The Age notice is a model of informative clarity and, in effect, of understatement, unlike the absurdly self-boosting letters people now seem to be expected to write when they apply for jobs. Nancye was justifiably proud of what she achieved in several fields, but she laid it out in a matter-of-fact way. For her there were ‘two great loves, research entomology and painting’. The former was pursued from the time of her graduation as BSc from the University of Sydney in 1945 till 1957. The latter began after her enrolment in Max Middleton’s oil painting classes in 1968.
However, there was much else besides: genealogy, activism in political and public affairs, book collecting (essentially Australiana, shipwrecks and 19th century ships newspapers, one of the strengths of her collection), fishing, guide dogs. In 2001 she published a memoir, Child of the ’Twenties, Girl of the ’Thirties, which was reviewed in Biblionews in the December 2001 issue (pp. 133-136). Melburnians, too, will know that she wrote letters to the newspapers about matters of concern to her and that she could occasionally be heard on talkback radio. She had studied the art of presenting her views succinctly and trenchantly. Energetic and tenacious are two adjectives one could apply to the long decades of her active life.
From Richard Overell: Nancye’s bookplate is very characteristic. It refers to her profession as an entomologist, and has the view between the trees in the shape of Australia. The beagle is her dog, Ambrose
The residue of Nancye Perry’s book collection was offered at the March Gallery Sale of Australian Book Auctions in 2010. The catalogue includes a brief assessment of her library and a reproduction of a self-portrait. A group of more important books had been sold to the trade at an earlier date. This was not one of the monuments of Australian bibliophily, but it bore clear witness to the taste and intellectual curiosity of its owner. Nancye Perry was certainly not the least of the notable collectors to have belonged to our Society in its now quite long history.