Thursday, December 22, 2011

A small mystery....

Who is "Miss Colenso"?

Today a friend got in touch and asked me whether I knew who the 'Miss Colenso' was in a lovely Victorian album which is on display in the Sir George Grey Room in the Auckland Public Library in Lorne Street.

I was very excited as one always wants to see more pictures of past historical characters, as if one can somehow
bring them alive again. Take away the chilly aura of the dead. (They live in our imaginations and somehow seeing a photo or a new drawing means they leap alive again, wonderfully. One reads them with a special kind of urgency, looking at all the information of 'nose' 'eyes' 'expression'.)

I know this is a hectic and distractingly busy time of year but the second link is the whole album digitised and is a lovely thing to look through when you have a quiet moment and want to forget about the present.

The link immediately below is an easy-to-read essay about Sarah Mathew's album contextualising it. (She was the wife of the first surveyor-general in New Zealand. She was not a starched shirt but one of those typically insightful
wives of a colonial adventurer, adept with the pen. She also stayed with the Fairburns when Elizabeth (later Colenso) was unmarried.

It is definitely worth a gander.

So who was......'Miss Colenso'?



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