Project: 19th Century Women
On nineteenth-century Australian women writers.
19th Century Women
What To Do With All Those Worthy Women Writers
What I missed in labeling Miss Spence a campaigner first and a novelist as an afterthought was that her primary ambition was as a writer. It was only after her writing failed to find an audience that she moved away from it toward journalism and lecturing. My experience with her novels is typical. There’s a silence around reading nineteenth-century women writers – not many people do it and if they do they are most likely specialists on Spence and her founding role in the history of Australian feminism.
Stargazing with Rosa Praed
It’s November, 2004. I’m sitting in one of the elegant reading rooms of the British Library, gazing at rows of readers bent to their books at long wooden tables, their hair illuminated by the glow of desk lamps. The ceilings are high above my head, the woodwork panelling of the walls rich and dark. I am tired, my head groggy. I moved to London two months before with a suitcase and a scholarship to study expatriate Australian writers, but I sometimes feel like I can’t wake from a bad dream.
Barbara Baynton: Hard Graft With The Best
Barbara Baynton’s book of short stories, Bush Studies, has fascinated me for years, because there’s so much that is deceptive, as well as utterly transgressive, about it. Written at the very end of the nineteenth century, the stories within it are mostly delivered in a deadpan narration that means the violence at their centre often builds so quietly and subtly that their eruption is as shocking as it is brutal.