John Bull's Vineyard. Australian Sketches. Hubert De CASTELLA.
John Bull's Vineyard. Australian Sketches
John Bull's Vineyard. Australian Sketches
John Bull's Vineyard. Australian Sketches

John Bull's Vineyard. Australian Sketches

Melbourne, Sands & McDougall Limited, 1886.

Octavo, [vi], 263 pages plus 4 full-page plates (line illustrations in sepia by the author).

Modern full morocco (by Bayntun of Bath) with both wrappers bound in at the rear; top edge uncut; some marginal loss to the wrappers, but expertly conserved and mounted on matching paper before being bound in; trifling signs of use and age; an excellent copy with a small newspaper clipping (dated 2 August 1937) about the author's son, François (also a viticulturalist), mounted on the verso of the lining of the front wrapper.

'A description of Victorian vineyards and the Australian wine industry by a pioneer Australian vinegrower' (Ferguson 9049, not noting the plates). The author puts it a little less prosaically in his short preface: 'He who could not compose a landscape from his imagination may sometimes paint sketches from nature which will be interesting on account of their truthful "couleur locale". If the following vignettes have this modest quality, they may pass muster amongst the efforts made by our Colonies to procure an adequate representation of Australia at the London Indian and Colonial Exhibition' (4 May to 20 November 1886).

Provenance: Walter Edward Senior James (1905-1991), journalist and wine writer, with his name-stamp on the title page ('Walter James | Darlington | Western Australia'). He had joined the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) and moved 'to Canberra in 1941. James reluctantly accepted the position of state publicity censor for Western Australia in 1942 ... Unhappy in this role and in poor health (he was rejected for military service), he told Hasluck he was "revolted by the unhealthy dullness of my sedentary work" (James 1942). Returning to Canberra in January 1943, he worked for the ABC news department until 1945. Inspired by the American champion of the simple life, H.D. Thoreau, he then took his wife and young family to the Perth hills, where he purchased the Glen Hardey vineyard and winery. With no practical experience, he produced sweet wines for Anglo-Australians and "claret" for those of Continental origin, until a fire destroyed his vineyard in March 1949. That year Georgian House (Melbourne) published James's "Barrel and Book: A Winemaker's Diary", with illustrations by Harold Freedman. It ran to a second edition.... [He then moved to Melbourne, where he wrote numerous wine-related books] ... James's writings on wine coincided with changes in Australians' tastes and led them as well' ('Australian Dictionary of Biography'). Judging by the address on the ownership stamp, De Castella's book first came into James's possession during those few influential years he spent on the Darling Scarp.

Item #118431

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