voices from the past


by E.W. Cole

Prose Anthology

Coles Funny Picture Book


Edward William Cole

1832 - 1918

Australian writer

Edward William Cole WAS a celebrated bookseller and publisher. He was known as "E.W. Cole of the Book Arcade" in Melbourne, Australia.

Cole was born in Kent, England. At age 18 he ran away to London. There he migrated to the Cape Colony, South Africa with 20 pounds and worked as a farmer. Two years later he migrated to Victoria Australia and arrived 12 November 1852. After working at a variety of jobs, he earned enough to open a small book shop with 600 books at the Eastern market in Melbourne. He improved the Market, hiring a band, spenting money on advertising to help make the Market a popular tourist spot.

Cole's Book Arcade was opened 27 January 1883. Cole had moved his operations to a building on Bourke Street near the post office. It expanded and grew into one of the great book businesses of Australia. The three-story Arcade was so famous that it was visited by writers such as Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling during their Australian travels.

Although Cole has very little education, he was a lifelong avid reader and a very savvy businessman. His bookshop was like no

other. It had a music department, Chinese tea salon, a wonderland with funny mirrors, a lolly shop, a lending library, and also sold secondhand books. In other words, it must have been quite an experience in those days. Sadly, nothing remains of the Coles Book Arcade.

Cole died at his home, Earlsbrae Hall, Essendon, on 16 December 1918, and was buried in Boroondara cemetery. An astute businessman, Cole died a very rich man.

Cole's works include:

  •  The Real Place in History of Jesus and Paul
    1867 ... Edwic (pseudonym of Cole),  non-fiction
  • Cole's Funny Picture Book
    1879 ... anthology prose children's humour
  • Cole's Fun Doctor: The Funniest Book in the World (editor)
    1886 selected work prose humour
  • Coles Funny Picture Book No. 2
    1905 ... anthology prose children's humour
  • Cole's Kindergarten Poetry Book : With Numerous Illustrations (editor)
    1910-1919 ... anthology poetry children's
  • Cole's Rosebud Story Book
    1921 ... selected work poetry children's fiction
  • Favourite Fairy Tales of Many Lands
    1928 ... children's fiction
  • Cole's Funny Picture Book No.1
    1948 ... anthology prose children's humour
  • Cole’s Australasian Gardening and Domestic Floriculture

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