Rosalind Atkins – Featured in ‘A Maker of Books’ by Michael Richards

Cover view, Michael Richards, A Maker of Books. (2022). Courtesy of the National Library of Australia.

Rosalind Atkins has been featured in a newly published account of editor and publisher Alec Bolton, who was the founder and sole operator of Brindabella Press. A Maker of Books: Alec Bolton and His Brindabella Press was compiled by Michael Roberts.

Sydney-born Bolton was the founder and sole operator of Brindabella Press, established in 1973. Producing twenty-eight works in its twenty-three years of operation, Brindabella Press developed a reputation as one of Australia’s most successful private presses. Besides this, Bolton took fine photographs of Australian literary figures. His collection of books and portraits, collected over more than 50 years, is historically significant.

Michael Richards’ account on Bolton’s life and career traces his growing expertise as a maker of beautiful books, his ambition and the recognition he achieved over time. Included in the book is a narrative chronicling how Atkins came to produce engraved illustrations intended for Alec Bolton’s books:

Alec Bolton setting type, 1987. Photo by Henk Brusse, National Library of Australia. NL 36085/B/7.

“The fine woodblock artist Rosalind Atkins wrote to Alec Bolton out of the blue on June 1986, saying that she had seen one of his books, admired its quality, and had learnt that he was looking for engravers. A recent graduate in Fine Art from RMIT, where she had studied under Tate Adams, she had already been elected to membership of the Society of Wood Engravers (England) in 1983 and was working on a book of her own engravings for Adams’ Lyre Bird Press.

Untold Lives (1992) cover and title page opening. Patterned paper designed by Adrian Young, based on a wood-engraved motif by Rosalind Atkins. Binding by Robin Tait. Courtesy of the Australian Book Designers Association Inc.

“Bolton responded quickly and with delight, asking for more information on her work, telling her “it is a matter of great interest to me to have more of my books illustrated with engravings.” Atkins replied promptly to say that she was keen to work with him: “I am aware of the low return for work like this, but the most important thing for me is the opportunity of doing another book.”


“Atkins’s image… was a highly successful beginning to a harmonious working relationship that would last for the rest of Bolton’s life… with Bolton telling Atkins: “Judith is very happy with the result, and said very nice things about your work. She particularly praised the tonality of the engraving, and said that you had caught exactly what the poem was expressing … Things don’t always turn out as you envisage, but this certainly has.””

Text excerpt from “A craftsman who worked with the best”, edited extract from A Maker of Books: Alec Bolton and His Brindabella Press (National LIbrary of Australia) by Michael Roberts, published in The Weekend Australian, 24-25 December 2022.

Excerpt from Brindabella: A Short List, by Archives Fine Books, featuring Les Murray, The Idyll Wheel (1989), with engravings by Rosalind Atkins.