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404539
  • Title
    John Rae - Letterbook, 1840-1854
  • Creator
  • Call number
    MLMSS 6998
  • Level of description
    fonds
  • Date

    1840-1854
  • Type of material
  • Reference code
    404539
  • Issue Copy
    Microfilm : CY 4131, frames 1-761 (MLMSS 6998)
  • Physical Description
    1 box - 0.1 Meters
    Textual Records - (manuscript)
  • ADMINISTRATIVE/ BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY

    John Rae (1813-1900), public servant, author, artist and photographer, was born in Aberdeen in 1813. After an early career in the law, he came to Australia in 1839 as secretary and accountant to the North British Australasian Loan and Investment Company. In 1843 Rae became the first full-time town clerk of Sydney, a position he held until 1857. From 1853 to 1857 he served as one of the three city commissioners. In 1857 he took up an appointment as secretary to the railway commissioners and went on to become commissioner for railways, 1861-1878, and under-secretary for public works, 1861-1889. He retired from the public service in 1893.
    Rae wrote and published several books including 'The Book of Isaiah, Rendered into English Blank Verse' and 'Gleanings from My Scrapbook', a collection of verse. He also edited and published a biography of railway engineer John Whitton. Rae is best known for writing the letterpress for John Skinner Prout's 'Sydney Illustrated', published in parts from 1842 to 1843, and in one volume in 1844.
    Rae was a talented, mostly self-taught, amateur artist. He painted watercolours of Sydney streets and, in 1850, recorded the turning of the first sod for the first railway. His photographic work included large panoramas of Sydney, Wollongong, Newcastle and part of the Murray Valley.
  • Scope and Content
    A copy press letterbook containing copies of letters sent by John Rae, 16 May 1840-20 July 1854. Most of the letters are addressed to his parents and brothers and sisters in Aberdeen, Scotland. In these letters Rae writes about his personal affairs, his lectures at the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, his experiments with various photographic techniques, his artistic work and his writing, especially the writing and publication of 'The Book of Isaiah'. Rae also writes about social and economic conditions in Sydney, especially the effects of the 1840s depression and the gold rushes, and mentions his appointment as a City Commissioner in 1853. Several letters include copies of his poems. There are also sketches by Rae - of Sydney Heads (pp 92, 122) of Sydney Cove (p 123), of the camera he designed (p 678), of houses where he lived (pp 211, 220) and of Hilton, Darlinghurst, the substantial house he built in 1851 (pp 801-802, 811).
    The letterbook includes ten letters written between 1845 and 1850 to John Skinner Prout and one to Mrs Prout, when they lived in Hobart and London. Rae reports on events in Sydney art circles and discusses his work with Prout in producing 'Sydney Illustrated'.
  • Source
    Acquired from Hordern House in 2000
  • Access Conditions

    This material is held offsite and is usually available after 4pm on the next business day. Please submit your request through Ask a Librarian
  • General note

    The letterbook is inscribed inside the front cover: 'John Rae accountant Sydney 1840'. Some pages have been removed, and references to the missing letters have been removed from the index.
  • Creator/Author/Artist
  • Name
  • Subject
  • Open Rosetta viewer

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