Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Somerville's book

Another gem has been added to the collection: the 1966 (third) edition of W. Somerville’s Rottnest Island in History and Legend (Its Discovery and Development, Natural Beauties, Fauna and Flora) arrived in the post this week.

Rotto Bloggo snapped it up on eBay for ten bucks: a snip compared to some of the Bookfinder listings (from $19.35 to $83.75, with most being the Rottnest Island Board reprint of 1976…the cheapest 1966 edition they had was $28.63).

Somerville was interesting. His name remains on the island: the cop shop’s address is 1 Somerville Drive. The UWA site says he was a Senate founder and wrote a history of the first 30 years of the uni that was never published. Fred Alexander (another big WA name) said some of Somerville’s comments in his history are “sensitive”.

The Australian Dictionary of Biography says Somerville was born in NSW and hit Freo in 1895:

“On the morning that he landed, he hunted up the union secretary at his breakfast and by starting time had found a job as engine-smith on C. Y. O'Connor's harbour works. He became a leader of the local labour movement, was active in the 1899 lumpers' strike, and represented the A.S.E. on the new Coastal Trades and Labor Council (president 1901). On 30 March 1899 in Wesley Church, Fremantle, Somerville married Agnes Spunner, schoolteacher; they lived in Mosman Park, a bushland suburb, and Agnes shared her husband's political activity. They had a daughter and three sons.”

Somerville was also involved on the King's Park and Rottnest Island boards: while on the latter he “instigated an ambitious afforestation scheme”.

A cataract meant Somerville retired in 1941. After an operation he wrote his Rottnest masterpiece and other works.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:39 PM

    have just recieved a 2cnd edition somerville, 1954, hardback, no dustcover, for birthday.
    Have large collection rotto 1st eds,
    and sundry