[GILES, John W. ?]
[SYDNEY; FEMINISM] My Book of Confessions. An album to gather Confessions and Opinions from Friends, &c.
London : H.J. Drane, Chant & Co., . Royal octavo (210 x 170 mm), publisher’s silk over boards with gilt stamped lettering to front (heavily rubbed, lacking backstrip), front hinge split; all edges gilt; unpaginated; the contents comprise approximately twenty-five 4-page printed surveys or “confessionals” with spaces for the contributors’ handwritten responses to questions on a wide range of topics; 21 contributors (all Australian men and women) have completed a “confessional”, supplying their name and date of entry, while a small number of the “confessionals” have been left blank; the owner of the album was most likely John W. Giles, who made the first entry in 1907, and the remaining entries follow at irregular intervals right up until 1914, with one much later entry made in 1928; the contents are clean and legible throughout.
Although this album was printed in England, its contents – manuscript entries made by twenty-one contributors, all residents of New South Wales, and most belonging to or apparently associated with the Pearce family of Seven Hills in Sydney’s west – provide a truly fascinating snapshot of Australian attitudes to many different subjects and issues in the period between Federation and the Great War.
The conributors are: John W. Giles (1907); Lasca L. Wenzel (1907); Stephen H. Denman (1907); Ida H. Barrett (1913); J. Pearce Smith, Jr. (1908); B. A. Pearce (1908); H. E. Hyde (1907); H. M. Archdall Pearce (1907); J. K. Castleden (1911); C. W. B. King (1913); Mollie R. Knapps (1907); Louis A. Pearce (1907); N. N. B. Smith (1908); Mary Fox (1907); Lillian Jessie Irie (1907); Rose M. Joubert (1912); Olive Knapps (1914); Maud Archdall Acres (1907); Elsie Fraser (1907); Jack Phillips (1908); J. M. Ledger (1928).
Here is a short selection of some of the questions set out in each “confessional”, with a sample of the responses by contributors:
What is your opinion of the new woman? Not much / Not favourable / Not as good as the old / Hard to please / Too masculine / Tango mad / In many ways an improvement on the old / Very unwomanly / Far too fast for me /
Would you marry for love or money? Love, or not at all / Money every time / Love would be the firtst thought, money a minor consideration / Kill two birds with one stone / I want a little of both /
Which character in history do you most dislike? Historians are not infallible, so I can’t say / I judge no man / Guy Fawkes / Judge Jeffreys / Frank Gardiner / Henry VIII / Mary Tudor / Richard III /
Should women cycle? If they like / Yes, if allowed to ride a horse / Perhaps they should / Yes, if no-one objects / Yes, if they mend their own punctures / Yes, if she likes, on a tandem / Why not? / Yes, if they find pleasure in it /
Your idea of true happiness? Breakfast in bed / A conscience clear / To be without worry / A day in bed / Perfect health / The love of all / Peace & prosperity / A contented mind / To be at peace with all mankind / When I’m among the girls /
Your idea of misery? To break your best pipe / An unsettled mind / To be always caring / A walk in the rain / Tight boots / A guilty conscience / Indigestion / The dentist’s chair / Pangs of hunger / To be utterly lonely / Stony broke /
The characters you most admire in real life? Golf professionals / The good & gentle / Those that are unselfish / The Queen Mother / The upright & truthful / Original characters /
Where would you like to live? Where I am placed / Anywhere but in the bush / In Australia / In a shady spot eating ice-cream / New York / Tumbarumba / Among the blacks /
What do you consider the noblest aim in life? To do one’s best / To be out of debt / Doing good to others / Thought for others / To put one’s self last / Help one another /
Who is the greatest living artist? Holman Hunt / Holman Hunt / Bertram MacKennal / Nature / Luke Fildes, R. A. / Holman Hunt
Which is your favourite virtue? Religion / Virtues can’t be favourites / All good virtues are priceless / Truthfulness / Unselfishness / Self-denial / Purity of heart /
Which is the vice you most detest? Work / I detest them all / Drink / Profanity / Deceit / Drunkenness, cruelty to dumb animals / Untruthfulness / Tongue wagging /
Which are your favourite qualities in woman? Housework / Purity & Truth / Modesty / Truthfulness & sincerity / Reserved, sociable when required / Womanliness & Beauty / Sincerity / Charity / Modesty & self control / A broad mind & a large heart /
Which are your favourite qualities in man? Golf & billiards / Strength & Unselfishness / Manliness / A strong will & self-restraint / Brave, consistent / Unselfishness & honesty / Nobleness / Moral courage / Strength of character, to be able to say “no” /
What is your ambition in life? £5000 a year / To be useful / To make the world happier & better / To be a womanly woman / To travel / Travel the globe / “Banish the canker of ambitious thoughts” / To get the girl I want /