Author(s): Richard Broinowski
Under the Rainbow is the life story of E.W. Cole, a colourful and much loved figure of 19th century Melbourne. Best remembered for his Funny Picture Books, his sense of the absurd and his marketing genius, his wonderful arcade was the first 'department store' in Melbourne, replete with a live orchestra, an aviary and monkeys alongside books, ornaments, art, curios and tearooms.
But there was more to Cole than his merchandising prowess- he scandalised the clergy with his sacrilegious views about Christianity, campaigned passionately against the White Australia policy, and advocated education for all.
Cole's journey from an impoverished sandwich seller on the streets of London to owner of one of the most memorable establishments of early Melbourne is remarkable. His passion for learning, insatiable curiosity, and enduring faith in the essential goodness of humanity make him a figure worth celebrating.
More than 100 years after his death, Cole's story is a timely reminder that a little bit of goodness can go a long way.