Monday, May 7, 2012


When working at the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, several years ago, I was able to work with the Macpherson Robertson collection - a collection of images, scrapbooks ephemera and artefacts relating to Robertson, his chocolate making business and his other interests. I found him a fascinating person so have enjoyed reading books by Jill Robertson written about this important Australian businessman.

The Chocolate King was published in 2004 and is a detailed account of the life and work of Macpherson Robertson. In 2010 Arcade Publications produced a shorter account of the life of this entrepreneur, also written by Jill Robertson. This small well illustrated book captures the spirit of the man, his drive and achievements and provides a great introduction to a person who contributed so much to Melbourne, particularly providing  donations for the building of Macrobertson Bridge and MacRobertson Girls' High School. Robertson was a great promoter of his products and the book contains images and quotes from some of the advertising material. It also covers Robertson's passion for advances in transport including cycling, motor vehicles and aeroplanes. Robertson also provided funds for Mawson's expedition to Antarctica in 1929 - Macrobertson Land being named in his honour. It must be said that he was also an expert at self-promotion. Macrobertsonland, as well as telling the story of this larger than life figure provides a social history of Victoria in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. After reading Macrobertsonland many readers might then like to read the more detailed The Chocolate King.

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