|Mulga Bill's Bicycle 2013|
My father, the writer D'Arcy Niland, grew up in a household where books were a rarity. When he had a family of his own, he would often frequent the local second-hand bookshops and bring home boxes of books to add to our home library.
The titles varied from the weird to classic, to fiction and non-fiction. Books of poetry stood next to titles like Monsters of the Deep. It was a treasure trove to our family growing up.
There was always a book on hand to suit the mood.
It also encouraged a love of history, science, natural history, humour, poetry and songs.
So it was one of these books plucked from a shelf that inspired our illustrated version of Mulga Bill's Bicycle.
That book was Rio Grande's Last Race and other Verses by A B Paterson. The edition I have is a very old copy, dated 1924.
In the last few years historical research has become easier online, as many libraries and institutions are digitising their records, books and newspapers. When researching the background of the poem Mulga Bill's Bicycle, I found a small newspaper item from The Sydney Morning Herald, 17th July 1896.
As the first illustrator of this poem was Norman Hardy, I did a little research on this artist as well.
This item is from The Sydney Mail, 8th January, 1898.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
I haven't uncovered the illustrations he drew for Mulga Bill's Bicycle as yet.
That research will be for another time.