Articles by: Andrew McConville

Chung Ling Soo, the Marvellous Chinese Conjurer ALMA 93.2/34

The life and death of master magician Chung Ling Soo

September 20, 2017

Our stories, Performing Arts, Rare Books & Arts:

Magician William Ellsworth Robinson left behind his plain name and New York background and reinvented himself as the Chung Ling Soo, the Marvellous Chinese Conjurer, complete with an imaginative and fictitious life story, In the great days of vaudeville he achieved world fame and in 1909 embarked on a wildly successful tour of Australia and New Zealand. A decade later, still at the height of his career, Chung Ling Soo was mortally wounded on stage undertaking his sensational bullet catch trick.

Fish named after men

Fish named after men

June 29, 2017

People & professions, Such was life:

Melbourne in the 1850s had a small but ambitious scientific community. One particularly idiosyncratic member of that community was William Blandowski, a man often at odds with the scientific establishment. He found himself embroiled in controversy with his choice of names for newly described Murray River fish.

“Kick it to Hunter, the screw kick punter!”

“Kick it to Hunter, the screw kick punter!”

April 13, 2017

Our stories:

Bill Hunter has been researching his grandfather, Fred Hunter, a star footballer in the Healesville area for many years from the early 1900s. Bill believes that it was Fred who perfected what is now known as the banana kick, a kick for goal from an impossible angle that screws at right angles. Fred’s father, Richard Rowan, developed the kick in the 1890s, and Fred perfected it during his playing days to the point where fans exhorted the team to “Kick it to Hunter, the screw kick punter!”

'Cruising in search of whales'

Castaway in the Siberian Arctic

January 31, 2017

People & professions, Such was life:

David Wilkinson joined Victoria’s first whaling expedition, aboard the ship Japan under the command of Frederick Barker. On 5 March 1869 Japan weighed anchor in Hobson’s Bay and commenced a voyage from which she would never return.

List betting men on the flat

Murder at the Grand National

October 24, 2016

Sport, Such was life:

On Saturday 14 July, 1906 the Grand National race meeting was held at Flemington. During the afternoon young bookmaker Donald ‘Big Mick’ McLeod was beaten to death by an angry crowd after failing to pay out on winning bets. This shocking event gave great impetus to the strident anti-gambling campaign.

Oscar saves the day

Oscar saves the day

September 13, 2016

People & professions, Such was life:

Antarctica, January 1916…exhausted, ill, running out of food and 650 kilometres from their base on Ross Island, the Ross Sea Party had little chance of survival. Whatever hope they had relied on their four sled dogs…

Ballarat Star, 10 July 1920

Post war play creates furore in Bendigo

June 21, 2016

Our stories:

On Saturday 3 July 1920, the play Advance Australia was staged at the Princess Theatre in Bendigo. Written by a local Catholic priest, John Joseph Kennedy, it would create a national furore.

Aurora ‘secured’ to shore prior to being carried away by the ice

The other side of Shackleton’s Antarctic adventure

November 19, 2015

Our stories:

When Ernest Shackleton’s 1915 Antarctic expedition ran into trouble, the Ross Sea party that was laying out stores for his team continued unawares, facing harrowing challenges of their own.

The Beatles in Australia: all five of them!

The Beatles in Australia: all five of them!

June 12, 2013

Rare Books & Arts:

Andrew McConville, the State Library’s very own mop-top, couldn’t resist commemorating the anniversary of this special madness! In Melbourne on 14 June 1964 all five Beatles, John, Paul, George, Ringo… Read More ›

Cobb  and Co

Cobb and Co

March 5, 2013

People & professions, Such was life:

On 30 January 1854, American businessman Freeman Cobb and three associates started a passenger coach service to Castlemaine and Bendigo.