ROWAN, (Marian) Ellis (1847-1922)
Bill Baillie : his life and adventures. (Association copy)
… With eight coloured illustrations by the author and numerous black and white drawings by Jack Sommers. Melbourne : Whitcombe and Tombs, . First edition. Small oblong quarto, pictorial cloth over bevelled boards (light rubbing and and mild flecking), an association copy, awarded as a school prize to a young member of the Crompton family (vignerons of Stonyfell, in the Adelaide Hills), who were close friends of Ellis Rowan, inscribed on the front free-endpaper ‘Knightsbridge School / Dora Crompton / Prize for passing the Junior University Exam, December 1908. Edith Hübbe, Oct. 8th 1909’ (Hübbe was the founder and Principal of Knightsbridge); pp 49, illustrated with 8 colour plates by Ellis Rowan and monochrome drawings by Jack Sommers; internally sound and clean, a good copy; accompanied by an A4 sheet of typed notes and another handwritten note explaining the connection between Ellis Rowan and the Crompton family. Muir 6484.
Provenance: Dorothea (“Dora”) Crompton, thence by descent.
‘Bill Baillie His Life and Adventures, published in 1908, was one of the earliest books to accurately depict the distinctive beauty of the West Australian bush. The children’s book is about the adventures of Ellis Rowan’s own beloved pet Bilboa (also known as the Bilby, the Dalgyte or the Rabbit-Eared Bandicoot (Macrotis lagotis)). Named Bill Baillie by Ellis Rowan, he was given to the artist in 1906 by a local handyman after he was rescued from his mother’s pouch, during her third visit to Western Australia. Bill’s story takes place in a variety of locations including the Goldfields area of Western Australia, which is where Ellis Rowan was given Bill Baillie in Goongarrie. The book was reprinted in 1948 as Bill Baillie: The Story of a Pet Bilboa‘ (Clare Plascow, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney).
From The Advertiser, Adelaide, November 28 1908:
””Bill Baillie.” By Ellis Rowan, author of A Flower Hunter in Queensland, &c. Melbourne: Whitcombe & Tombs, Limited. Humor and pathos are mingled in this enchanting record of the life and adventures of Bill Baillie, the forlorn little bilboa, whose mother was killed by dogs, but who himself was so fortunate as to take the fancy of the kind-hearted Tabitha, the flower painter. His name being shortened to Bill was subsequently lengthened to Bill Baillie. Tabitha’s first idea was to name her pet John, after Sir John Forrest, whom he resembled in “‘pluck and determination,” but this was getting too far away from the family name. When Tabitha arrived in Adelaide from Western Australia she brought Bill Baillie with her, and like the little lamb that followed Mary, Bill accompanied his mistress every where. His end came all too soon. Playing in the drawing room one evening he split his hand against the fender and died from the effects. The book should please the young folk, for whom it is written, and it thoroughly merits its handsome get up. It will probably be accounted one of the best of the present season’s gift books, especially in view of the numerous black and white drawings by Jack Sommers, and still more the eight exquisitely colored pictures by the author representing bush scenes in Western Australia.’