sir john's book club

As it gets colder, why not curl up with a favourite book of our founder Sir John Logan Campbell? From Shakespearean tragedies to worldly travel tales, Sir John read a wide variety of literature in his lifetime, and, like many writers in the 19th century, regularly quoted his favourite works in his own writing. In this blog we've compiled a variety of literature across many genres, to give you a taste of what Sir John may have read in his lifetime.

As a lover of literature, it is no surprise that Sir John read Shakespeare. The most well-known of his forays into the great bard's work is Macbeth. Otherwise known as The Scottish Play, Macbeth is a quintessential Shakespearean tragedy, following the rise and fall of its titular characters Macbeth and his wife Lady Macbeth. For Sir John, Macbeth was where he found many quotations to use in his writing, including his favourite "throw physic to the dogs". Sir John uses this quote many times within his memoirs, generally as a way of saying that he was acknowledging a risky choice and taking it. A notable example is when he described the decision to leave Scotland and head to Australia, he used the phrase "throw physic to the dogs" to illustrate leaving behind his set path as a doctor and taking the riskier option of moving to a new colony.

Another of Sir John's favourites of Shakespeare's works is Hamlet. You might know it as the beginning of the notable quotation "To be or not to be", one Sir John used in his own writing. Hamlet, Shakespeare's longest play, tells a story of revenge, corruption, appearances and reality through the interpersonal drama of the nobility in 14th to 15th century Denmark.

Sir John's reading was not just the works of Shakespeare, he was also an avid reader of poetry. If you want to read poetry like Sir John, some great starting options are The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe and Verses Supposed to be Written by Alexander Selkirk, During His Solitary Abode in the Island of Juan Fernandez. These two works were quoted often within Sir John's writing and encompass much of the variety of poetry he read, including many prominent poets of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Travel Literature
Sir John was an explorer at heart, travel was a core element in many aspects of his life, including his reading! Sir Joh wrote in his memoirs that reading the works of Dr Mungo Park, a Scottish explorer of Western Africa, was what kindled his deep desire for travel. Sir John's later fascination with and travels to Egypt and wider Europe stemmed from two notable books, The Crescent and The Cross and Eothen - Travel in the East. The Crescent and The Cross is an account of the author, Elliot Warburton's travels in Greece, Turkey, Syria, Palestine and Egypt in 1843. Published around the same time, Eothen - Travel in the East is a travelogue of author Alexander William Kinglake's journey in The Middle East. All three books are available online either from Project Gutenberg or The Internet Archive

Dive a Little Deeper
If you want to learn a bit more about the man behind the list and about Cornwall Park, why not join our guided walk 'Sir John's Footsteps' where you can join Huia Lodge team members and learn more about Sir John's journey to Aotearoa New Zealand and his life here while walking around the park. If you want some visual insight into European settler life, we have Acacia Cottage, the oldest timber building in Auckland, where Sir John used to live. Or if you still want more to read, try Remineninces, a book of Sir John’s personal journals over the years filled with stories, adventures and snapshots. Available at Huia Lodge Discovery Hub.