THEY set sail for the far side of the world for the promise of adventure but on Monday, visitors to Orange City Library will hear about what they actually found during World War I.
Before A Town Named War Boy reaches Orange Civic Theatre on Wednesday, based on the State Library’s collection of First World War diaries, photographs and letters, the library’s curator Elise Edmonds will present a free talk about the material.
She will also share the story of the library’s collection drive, instigated by extraordinary foresight from librarian William Isould in 1919.
“The library advertised in Australian newspapers, New Zealand newspapers and UK newspapers,” Ms Edmonds said.
“He had a very strategic, and correct, understanding that future generations would find them interesting and powerful.
“I think the uniqueness with the collection is that it’s an early-formed collection.”
The diaries have come from all over Australia, with six Kiwi diaries.
Ms Edmonds said diaries were carefully assessed and paid for based on their quality, ranging from five pounds to 75 pounds.
“That was a lot of money at the time,” she said.
“They rejected a lot – they wrote back to people saying it’s not up to scratch and they were quite brutal in some respects.”
Ms Edmonds said detailed descriptions were highly prized, as were details on fellow servicemen and soldiers’ travels while on leave – one tracks the landing at Gallipoli, including the bullets whizzing past and the solder’s doubts he would make it.
The collection was recently inscribed in the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register.
Author of The Unknown Anzacs, Michael Caulfield, will also talk about how he used the World War I diaries as research for his book.
To book for the free talk at 5.30pm on Monday, click here.
A Town Named War Boy has already enjoyed a sellout Sydney season.
Tickets for Wednesday night’s performance are still available here.