Professor Lydia Wevers, Director, Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies, Victoria University of Wellington
‘Many Annotations, One Scholar’
The Brancepeth Station Library – c2000 volumes of late 19th century popular fiction and general works – was presented to VUW Library in 1966 by the late Mr Hugh Beetham, of Brancepeth Station in the Wairarapa. It had been established by the Beetham family in 1884 as a library for the staff of Brancepeth Station, which was then one of the largest properties in the region.
“The book historian Jonathan Rose recently claimed that marginalia has no discernible pattern, its only pattern is no pattern, but the Brancepeth library offers a counter argument. Many of the marginal comments and marked passages are made by one reader and his repetitions and preoccupations are a kind of self-portrait. As a whole the way readers have scribbled in the books, and the uses they have put them to, is revealing about the interactions between the library and the social world in which they lived.”