# 39522

WHITELOCKE, Nelson Paget (1861-1927)

A walk in Sydney streets on the shady side

$3,500.00 AUD

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: 20 sketches / drawn, lithographed and published by Nelson P. Whitelocke. Cover title: The streets of Sydney from the shady side. Sydney : Nelson P. Whitelocke, [1885]. Folio (390 x 300 mm), original gilt-ruled half black morocco over brown pebbled cloth, upper board with title lettered in gilt within ornamental gilt border (lightly marked), spine with bands in gilt; original marbled endpapers, front pastedown with binder’s ticket of W. E. Smith, Sydney; lithographed frontispiece dedication to Lord Loftus, Governor of New South Wales, lithographed title leaf, author’s ‘Advertisement’ leaf (dated 1 June 1885), ‘List of Sketches’ leaf, [1] blank leaf, followed by 20 lithographed plates printed in black on a cream-tinted background, each accompanied by descriptive text on the facing page, and a ‘Finis’ plate featuring a vignette portrait bust of the author/artist and facsimile of his signature; some light marginal foxing, mostly confined to the text pages; a fine example.

Privately published in Sydney in 1885, this rare and highly evocative graphic work documents – with the empathetic eye of an artist possessing a strong social conscience – the city’s poor and working-class types, as well as the appearance (and sounds) of its streets.

London-born journalist and poet Nelson P. Whitelocke (1861-1927) arrived in Australia in the early 1880s. Despite his young age, he demonstrated that he was also an accomplished artist when he published Twenty-four original sketches from the works of Charles Dickens in Sydney in 1884. In his Advertisement in the present work, Whitelocke alludes to a review of his 1884 book in the Sydney Morning Herald, which had urged him to produce a similar study of Sydney, since ‘Sydney streets afford more subjects for a book of sketches than any work of Dickens.’

Hence the germ for A walk in Sydney streets on the shady side was planted. However, it is likely that Whitelocke was also influenced by the groundbreaking publications Street Life in London (issued in parts in 1876-7), and Street Incidents (1881). Those projects, both collaborations between the radical journalist Adolphe Smith and the photographer John Thomson, had continued the efforts of Mayhew and Dickens in bringing the atrocious living conditions of London’s poor into the public eye, but their impact was probably even more visceral because of the power of the photographic medium.

Although Whitelocke did not, of course, use photographic images in his self-published A walk in Sydney streets on the shady side, his beautifully lithographed illustrations are examples of social realism tinged with a poetic pathos. The twenty subjects are:

  1. A Good Samaritan (a girl assisting an elderly blind street busker);
  2. Drink (a drunkard on a bench)
  3. Café belles (two women of night)
  4. Out-door relief (an elderly woman who has just obtained provisions from the Benevolent Asylum)
  5. Captain Rook (a social parasite who will find a way to take your money)
  6. An Old Offender (a destitute “well known to the police”)
  7. News boy (young urchin barely scraping a living by selling newspapers)
  8. The Organ-grinder (Italian street musician and his monkey)
  9. Fruit-seller (one of the city’s ubiquitous vendors, found ‘at the corners of most principal thoroughfares and park entrances)
  10. The Shoe-black (a one-legged shoeshine man)
  11. The Park Orator (sometimes ‘subjected to very rough treatment at the hands of those of their audience who may not have approved of their doctrine’)
  12. Sydney Cabby (most ‘appear to be Irishmen’)
  13. Street musicians (‘Rarely … will you pass through a Sydney street and fail to hear the sweet, dulcet note of the harp’)
  14. Sydney Night Refuge and Soup Kitchen (‘a haven of refuge to the homeless, hungry wanderers’)
  15. Salvation Army (‘Wide is the field of battle for the Salvationist’)
  16. The Blind Girl (‘her thin and emaciated fingers pass over the raised letters of her Bible, as she slowly utters the sacred words’)
  17. One more unfortunate (a ‘poor, dejected, friendless outcast’, cruelly neglected by her husband)
  18. Chinese vegetable seller (‘”John” – the name universally applied to the Celestial resident in Sydney … The gardens belonging to these men are kept in beautiful order’). (Note: The title called for in the List of Sketches is ‘Early morning’).
  19. The Larrikin (‘too hardened in vice … [and] continually bringing trouble and misery upon himself and others’)
  20. A Back-slum (‘It is almost impossible to describe the ravages made by the dreadful scourge [of alcohol]’)

Ferguson, 18490.