"Written extempore" William Anderson Cawthorne's "Literarium Diarium", A Colonial Diary. [abstract].
The Adelaide schoolteacher William Anderson Cawthorne began writing his "Literarium Diarium" 22 October 1842, keeping the diary going until the 1860s. It survives in a number of battered volumes in the Mitchell Library of the State Library of New South Wales; one of Cawthorne’s daughters left her father’s papers to the library in the 1920s. The "Literarium Diarium" is a remarkable — if sometimes self indulgent — informal record of life in and around colonial Adelaide in the middle decades of the nineteenth century, in both word and image, in that Cawthorne was not only a writer but also a watercolourist, and many of the pages are illustrated. Its perspective is that of the 'littérateur', of the weekend amateur ethnographer; the diary has been recognised as one of the best records of everyday contact between the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains and the colonists that we have. While the diary is of considerable importance for its representation of the day-to-day minutiae of Adelaide life in the 1840s and 1850s, it is also remarkably revealing of the private thoughts and feelings of a young man on the fringes of lower middle class society in Adelaide.