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Read all about it . . . Oamaru Library staff member Debbie Price-Ewen peruses some of the Victorian literature being celebrated in November. PHOTO: SALLY BROOKER

Tickets are on sale today for Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebrations events from November 11-15.

“The challenges of the pandemic have meant that there has been a paring back of the programme compared to last year; however the planned programme is full of entertainment for locals and visitors alike,” co-ordinator Anisha Lee said.

This year’s theme is Victorian Literature.

“Explore the societal reflections of Charles Dickens and the romance of the Bronte sisters, be transported to another world with the fantasy writing of Bram Stoker and Lewis Carroll, or delve into the first works of science fiction discovering Mary Shelley and H.G. Wells,” Miss Lee said.

“Dress as your favourite character or author from Victorian Literature (1837-1901) and come along to the Oamaru Library to have your photo taken carrying a copy of the book that your character is taken from.

“We also are requesting that schools hold Victorian Literature days prior to the celebrations and take entry photographs of participating students. The judges will announce the winning costume at the Great Photo Opportunity, after the Grand Parade.”

Waitaki Museum and Archive staff member Chris Meech will speak on the works of local writer William Henry Sherwood Roberts at the Oamaru Library. Roberts’ works included The history of Oamaru and North Otago, New Zealand, from 1853 to the end of 1889

Fiona Farrell will also give a free talk about Victorian Literature.

“Fiona is Oamaru-born and bred, and one of New Zealand’s best-known and acclaimed poets, fiction writers and playwrights,” Miss Lee said.

“Fiona has a unique perspective on the history of the Oamaru Public Library, having worked during her high school years in the Athenaeum.”

That institution, which promotes literary or scientific learning, dates back to 1864 when a local group was formed to establish an Athenaeum and Mechanics’ Institute. Rooms were rented before construction began in 1867 on a Forrester and Lemon-designed building.

But only 12 years later, fundraising began for the much larger building that now houses the Waitaki Museum and Archive. It opened in 1882 with 4000 books, which were lent out from 1883, and evening classes were held from 1887.

The Athenaeum became a free public library in in 1948, then the current library was built in 1975.

A talk on the Victorian influences on Janet Frame’s writing takes place at Frame’s childhood home at 56 Eden St.

The Grainstore Gallery is holding a free talk on famous writers who visited Oamaru, such as Mark Twain and Anthony Trollope, and Whitestone City’s display of historic books includes some from the Athenaeum.

“Many more events are running throughout the week, including the annual Crombie and Price Garden Party, Victorian Ball and SouthRoads Grand Parade,” Miss Lee said.

“Full details on all of the events and purchasing tickets is available online at www.vhc.co.nz.”