World of the Book: The Rare, the Sacred and the Iconic at State Library Victoria

Thu 27th January, 2022 – Sun 19th February, 2023
State Library Victoria
328 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Price: Free
See over 300 of the rarest books in the state, including a mini exhibition of Dante and the Divine Comedy, 19th century Jane Austen box sets, medieval manuscripts and more.

It’s a no-brainer that you’ll find books in a library, especially one as big and well-regarded as the State Library. But it’s turning things up a notch for five months, with an exhibition of some of the most unique and valuable books from around the world – some never before put on display.

More than 300 works will be on show, including the oldest item in the library’s collection through to some newer acquisitions. Overall, the exhibition spans 4000 years worth of tomes.

There’s a section devoted to Dante Alighieri and his seminal narrative poem Divine Comedy, as well as artistic responses to his work such as an illustrated Inferno by Tom Phillips, an engraved print by William Blake and a private press edition of other Alighieri works.

Other highlights include a boxed set of Jane Austen’s novels from the 19th century; Margaret Atwood first-editions; work by Jack Kerouac with links to Melbourne; and works by author and artist Shaun Tan.

Plus, medieval manuscripts; never-before-exhibited works related to Dr Martin Luther King, Sylvia Plath and Bob Dylan; the Dala ‘il Khairat (Prayers for the Prophet Muhammad); books on Jewish mysticism from the David Hailperin collection, and more.

This is the 16th iteration of World of the Book (previously known as Mirror of the World) at the State Library Victoria; it’s been running annually since 2005, with updates and changes each year.

More information here.