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$1 million to the State Library of Victoria – Honoring the 70th anniversary of the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

10 October 2022

The grant supports the State Library’s Women Writers Fund, securing acquisitions by women writers for the state collection, alongside public programming including an annual marquee oration featuring an internationally recognised speaker.

Catherine Walter AM, Chair of the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust said “The grant to the State Library will grow the representation of women’s writing in our State Collection, from the past and into the future. Additionally the public programming will amplify its reach to new generations and build on its deep cultural influence”.

The grant to the state library is made alongside a commitment of $250,000 to the Stella Prize, supporting the major literary award celebrating women’s writing.

Debra Morgan, CEO of the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust said “The support of historical works by women writers in the State Collection, alongside new works promoted by the Stella Prize ensures representation of women’s writing across genres and generations. The two grants go hand in hand to grow representation of women’s writing, from the past and into the future, for all Victorians.”

President of the Library Board of Victoria Christine Christian AO said the commitment will help to strengthen the recognition of the contribution of women to all aspects of society. “This $1 million donation is an inspiring gift to Victoria and a real milestone in our 35-year relationship with Helen Macpherson Smith Trust. It means that the Library’s beautiful spaces can be enjoyed by more people to seek, share and celebrate women’s literature in new ways,” she said.

Catherine Walter AM said the 70th anniversary celebration grant continues the close relationship between the Trust and the Library. “I’m pleased that, through this grant, we can honor both the relationship established by the Trust’s former Chairman, Darvell Hutchinson over 35 years ago, and former Trustee Fran Awcock, who was Chief Executive Officer and State Librarian at the State Library.”

Senior Librarian History of the Book and Arts Dr Anna Welch said the generous support of the Trust will have a lasting impact on the State Collection. “I’m excited to continue to work with the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust to enrich our Library’s holdings of women across the ages, whose voice and contributions are an integral part of our shared cultural and intellectual history.

The Trust’s support has already enabled the Library to make significant acquisitions, including notably Emilie du Chatelet’s French translation of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica from 1759, which will complete the Library’s representation of this iconic female scientist.

In addition, the Trust’s support has allowed the acquisition of Helena Bochořáková-Dittrichová’s, From my Childhood – the first ever wordless graphic novel created by a woman. Acquiring this beautiful work for the Library – one of 50 limited edition copies numbered and signed by the artist, and in exceptionally fine condition – will introduce her to an appreciative modern audience and help tell a more accurate story of the development of graphic novels as a form.”