The Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection has lost a good friend with the death on 4 December 2014, after a short illness, of Professor Richard Clough AM, architect, landscape architect and educator.

Richard Clough was born in Wagga Wagga, NSW, in 1921. He graduated in architecture from the University of Sydney in 1947, his studies having been interrupted by his service in the Australian Army’s 475th heavy anti-aircraft unit stationed at Milne Bay during the Second World War.  As a new graduate he worked as an architect with the firm Fowell, Mansfield and Maclurcan and later Stephenson and Turner before leaving for London in 1949. He had been encouraged by Professor E G Waterhouse to study landscape architecture at University College London. In England he worked with leading landscape architect Sylvia Crowe and was greatly impressed by her ecological approach to landscape design. Returning to Australia in 1956 he had a distinguished career in landscape architecture with the National Capital Development Commission in Canberra and as Professor of Landscape Architecture and Head of School at the University of New South Wales from 1981 until his retirement in 1986.

In 2004 Richard presented his outstanding collection of garden books to the Historic Houses Trust’s Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection through the Commonwealth Cultural Gifts Program. The collection comprised more than 2000 items ranging across the history of publishing about Australian gardens, gardening, gardeners and plants.

Richard began collecting books in London, influenced by the example of one of his teachers, and inspired by reading Christopher Tunnard’s Gardens in the modern landscape (1938). This seminal work on modernist landscape design, featuring modernist houses designed by Australian expatriate architect Raymond McGrath, had an historical perspective, with unexpected references to 19th century garden writers. Richard Clough sought out these Victorian gardening books, then little valued and mostly inexpensive.

He collected for his own education. He wanted to learn, and bought books on all aspects of garden design. He brought them back to Australia and eventually offered them to the Canberra College of Advanced Education (now the University of Canberra). But he kept some, and he kept collecting. When he was appointed to the University of New South Wales he encountered teaching based on unfounded assumptions about Australian gardening and Australian attitudes to gardening. So he began to gather a collection that would give a proper historical background to the subject. This was the collection presented to the Historic Houses Trust (Sydney Living Museums).

Law, Somner & Co’s Handbook

Law, Somner & Co’s Handbook to the garden or New South Wales, published by W. Maddock, Bookseller, Sydney in 1868; The handbook features an engraving of a plant indigenous to South Australia, Clianthus Dampierii, Sturt’s Desert Pea. Seeds could be bought in Sydney from Shepherd’s Darling Nursery in Chippendale. Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection. For more information, see our library catalogue.

The collection covers four broad areas: Australian gardening, Australian gardens (botanic, bush, cottage, flower, fruit, vegetable), Australian gardeners, and Australian plants. Rare books with fine bindings are balanced by runs of everyday gardening manuals and quirky garden ephemera. For historiographical reasons a decision was made to keep the Clough collection together, as a separate sequence from our existing general and rare books collections, believing that the very structure of a collection formed with such regard to history will offer a number of avenues for future historical research. It remains one of Richard’s many legacies to Australian scholarship.

About the Author

Head and shoulders photo of woman holding up card to face with conservator's white glove on hand.
Megan Martin
Former Head, Collections & Access
Megan is the former head of Collections & Access at Sydney Living Museums. She has a particular interest in the working of the historical imagination, in teasing out the meanings of objects in museums collections and in crafting the stories that can be recovered/discovered through a close reading of those items of material culture.

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