In the nineteenth century, the British penal establishment of Port Arthur sat incongruously amongst the bleak and remote landscape of the Tasman peninsula in the Australian colony of Van Diemen’s Land. This place, known infamously for its harsh regime of solitude, corporal punishment and unremitting labour, seems an unlikely place for books to find a home. Yet, as will be discussed, books and reading had an important role to play in the life of the settlement and of the convicts sent there. This paper will discuss preliminary work into the collections of these prison libraries and their collections, and establish the context for their development as a case study on the use of books and libraries in the reformation of character in the nineteenth century.
|Keywords:||Library History, Education History, Books and Reading, Prison Libraries|
Lecturer, School of Information Studies, Charles Sturt University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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