Australian Women Writers Bingo 2017


I meant all along to enter this years’s AWW Bingo and didn’t realise I’d missed it until I saw the winner announced a few days ago (here). As usual there were two bingo cards, and as it happens, no one completed the second, the Classics Challenge, so I thought I would go back through my reviews for the past year and see how I would have done.

19th Century. I read/reviewed three (Australian) works first published in the C19th:

Ada Cambridge, The Three Miss Kings, 1883 (review)

Tasma, A Sydney Sovereign, 1890 (review)

Catherine Helen Spence, A Week in the Future, 1888-9 (review)

Early 20th Century. Here, I’m afraid, I have to cheat.

Miles Franklin, Cockatoos, first written as On the Outside Track in 1903 but not published until 1954 after being re-written to fit into the Brent of Bin Bin series (review)

If they ask the same question next year I will make sure I can answer:

Barbara Baynton, Human Toll, 1907 which has sat in my TBR for years.

And if it comes to that, I have read and should put up reviews of MF’s first two published novels, My Brilliant Career (1901) and Some Everyday Folk and Dawn (1909).

1920s and 1930s. The work I have done this past year to review all of ‘Brent of Bin Bin’and to contribute to Lisa at ANZLL’s Christina Stead page pays off here.

Miles Franklin, Ten Creeks Run, 1930 (review)

Miles Franklin, Back to Bool Bool, 1931 (review)

Miles Franklin, Old Blastus of Bandicoot, 1931 (review)

Christina Stead, The Salzburg Tales, 1934 (review)

Henry Handel Richardson, The Young Cosima, 1939 (review)

1940s and 1950s. More Franklin/Brent of Bin Bin and more Stead, but also …

Kylie Tennant, The Honey Flow, 1956 (review)

Charmian Clift, Travels in Greece, first pub. 1958-9 (review)

Miles Franklin, Gentlemen at Gyang Gyang, 1956 (review)

Miles Franklin, Prelude to Waking, 1950 (review)

Christina Stead, Letty Fox Her Luck, 1946 (review)

1960s and 1970s. Stead keeps writing.

Christina Stead, Cotters’ England, 1966 (review)

Christina Stead, Miss Herbert (A Suburban Wife), 1976 (review)

Thea Astley, A Kindness Cup, 1974 (review)

A Contemporary Classic. I reviewed a few from the 1980s on, but I think these three, and particularly the last, deserve to be ‘classics’

Elizabeth Jolley, The Newspaper of Claremont Street, 1981 (review)

Helen Garner, The Spare Room, 2008 (review)

Alexis Wright, The Swan Book, 2013 (review)

Non-Fiction. You’ll see a ring-in amongst these, about an AWW rather than by, which led to a guest post/Monday Musings on Whispering Gums (here)

Bertha Lawson, My Henry Lawson (memoir), 1943 (review)

Miles Franklin, Laughter, Not for a Cage (collected essays), 1954 (review)

Brian Matthews, Louisa (biography), 1987 (review)

Chris Williams, Christina Stead: A Life of Letters (biography), 1989 (review)

Larrissa Behrendt, Finding Eliza (historiography), 2016 (review)

Sarah Goldman, Caroline Chisholm, 2017 (review)

Not yet Reviewed for AWW. I think that was true of all the old books I put up, except maybe A Sydney Sovereign. I’ll choose the least well-known.

Catherine Helen Spence, A Week in the Future, 1888-9 (review)

Free Square. Maybe not a ‘classic’, but certainly a favourite. I’m going to choose, drum roll ….

Jane Rawson, From the Wreck, 2017 (review)

I think in a hundred years time Wright’s The Swan Book will be the stand-out of all these, and maybe Astley’s A Kindness Cup, though I hope Stead is still rated highly (and Jolley, of course, but maybe not for Newspaper).

So, I wonder, what are the ‘classics’ of Australian women’s lit.? This is probably a subject for another post, but how about these five for starters:

Eleanor Dark, The Timeless Land, 1941

Christina Stead, The Man Who Loved Children, 1940

Elizabeth Jolley, The Well, 1986

Justine Ettler, The River Ophelia, 1995

Alexis Wright, Carpentaria, 2006

Arbitrarily stopping at five means I have unhappily left out two novels I have reviewed in the past 12 months Janette Turner Hospital’s Orpheus Lost (2007) and Astley’s A Kindness Cup and also Clara Morrison (1854) by Catherine Helen Spence which Miles Franklin in Laughter not for a Cage suggests is the best novel of the C19th (by an Australian woman).

Also left out are Franklin’s own My Brilliant Career (1901), Seven Little Australians (1894) by Ethel Turner and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (1918) by May Gibbs which are all certainly classics, but not, I think, literary. What do you think?


14 thoughts on “Australian Women Writers Bingo 2017

      • I do think Helen Garner’s work qualifies as contemporary classics, particularly The First Stone (but that’s because I was at Melbourne Uni when the book was published so it was all very topical). The other one that I would include is Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things – there’s frightening prophecy in that book as well as insanely good writing.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Well done, Bill!
    I flunk three categories: I really haven’t read anything much from the C19th; the early 20th or 1940s and 50s this past year. There is a reason for this: what I’ve been reading instead. 2017 is a bumper year for great new releases from both established and debut authors but none of them can claim classic status yet IMO. I am, however, going to assert The Museum of Modern Love (2016), by Heather Rose as a contemporary classic. Maybe that’s optimistic, but I do think it’s a beaut book that has longevity in its future.
    I do ok for the 1920s and 30s: I read The Black Opal (1921), and Haxby’s Circus (1930) by Katharine Susannah Prichard.
    For the 60s and 70s I’ve got ‘Girl from the Beach’ (1965) in The Puzzleheaded Girl, by Christina Stead, and The Dyehouse by Mena Calthorpe (1961).
    My NF is Damned Whores and God’s Police (1975, though I read the updated edition), by Anne Summers.
    I’m going to claim the free square with Don’t Take Your Love to Town by Ruby Langford Ginibi published in 1988 because that is surely a classic!


  2. It I’m making a (futile) attempt to rein in my book purchases, I put them in my wishlist at Goodreads, with a link to where I heard about them or the review I read. That’s worked well for me:)


  3. That is a huge amount of reading of Australian Women Writers! You put the rest of us to shame (well, most of us anyway). Not one of the 16 books I have read by Australian women writers this year has been a classic 😯


  4. Ah, it makes sense now why you’ve been reading so much Miles Franklin! I thought you just had a literary crush on her, but it’s all in a big book. Are all the books novellas, or does that tome require a forklift to get around?


  5. Not one big book! And not novellas. I’ve been reviewing Franklin as a project because she was central to my dissertation; because nearly all her books were only printed once and so have been long out of print; and because our main literary prize bears her name yet she is so little read. If I have confused you it may be because the six books she wrote using the penname Brent of Bin Bin are available as one e-book.


  6. Great list Bill. Knew you’d rock it in.

    You’re brave naming Aussie women’s classics. I do think Thea Astley has to be there though – as the first to win four Miles Franklin awards, and one of only two to do it. But, which one? I do Like The multiple effects of rainshadow, but hard decision. I’d have her instead of Ettler!


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