A Partridge and a pear tree

7 December 2021

On the first day of Christmas, the ANU Library received… a “Partridge” and a pear tree.

Library staff were thrilled to accept a donation of Eric Partridge’s Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, which catalogues Australian slang, colloquialisms, catch phrases, nicknames, vulgarisms and more.

This first edition has been uniquely annotated with idiosyncratic comments, clippings, and cartoons. The clippings come from a variety of sources (such as the Illustrated London News and Punch), and range from the 1840s to the 1970s.

The identity of the annotator, Patrick Murray, remains a mystery.

The eight-volume set was kindly donated by Dr Bernadette Hince, from her father’s library. Kenneth Frederick Hince was an eminent antiquarian bookseller.

Bernadette is an Honorary Lecturer at the Australian National Dictionary Centre, so has a keen interest in the art of dictionary writing. She is also a fantastic gardener, and generously donated a pear tree to go along with her donation.

University Librarian Roxanne Missingham said ANU was honoured to receive a copy of the book.

“We are very grateful to Bernadette for donating these incredible volumes to the Library,” she said.

“This is an extraordinarily rich resource which will be valuable for those researching the history of language or indeed using historical sources from the early part of the last century.”

If anyone has four calling birds, three French hens, and two turtle doves – please get in touch!



This volume will be added to the ANU Library collection shortly. A second edition of the Dictionary published in 2013 can be viewed online via the ANU Library Catalogue.