9. Increasing Access to Fragile Materials

William Buelow Gould was an English convict who was convicted of stealing a coat and was transported to Tasmania. He was marooned after a mutiny and later had his sentence commuted as one of the people who had stayed with the officers, earning him a certificate of freedom.

While imprisoned, he had created a series of illustrations of fish and other water-dwelling creatures. It contained the first images recorded of a number of species.

Leafy sea dragon

Called [Gould’s] Sketchbook of Fishes, it has been recognized as a document of world significance. It is now on the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register.

Silver dory

A fictionalized account of Gould’s life was written by Tasmanian author Richard Flanagan. Gould’s Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize in 2001.


The original sketches are not available for general access but all of the drawings can be viewed on Flickr Commons via the Tasmanian Archives and State Library.

Snake eel
Walking fish
Fresh water crayfish