AWW Gen 1, Treasure Trove

Australian Women Writers Gen 1 Week 15-21 Jan. 2018


If this is Friday then I must have been to a copper mine north of Meekatharra, though by the time you’re reading this it’ll be Saturday and I’ll have got back to Perth, hooked up two loaded trailers and be on my way to Kalgoorlie.

The sign above is from my Wednesday delivery, a mine on the edge of the Nularbor, out towards Balladonia. In Kim Scott’s Benang, his great grandfather Sandy One Mason is a teamster delivering supplies out of Esperance to amongst other places, Balladonia which I guess was then a sheep station (it’s now a roadhouse 180 km from the nearest town), based on his wife, Fanny’s (Benang) knowledge of the country.

In all this driving I am drowning in wordy books, reading when I get the chance Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, and listening to Canterbury Tales, Vanity Fair, and over the last couple of days, Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria, which will be my next review.

But a letter this morning from my cousin Kay, a librarian in Bendigo who last got a mention three years ago, has alerted me to a story in the Age about a ‘treasure trove’ of nineteenth century Australian fiction which has only recently come to light with the digitisation of old newspapers.

Linda Morris writes: “When Katherine Bode, an associate professor at the Australian National University, set out to answer this question, she had only a vague sense that some fiction was printed in Australian newspapers in the 19th and early 20th centuries.” (!)

“The more than 21,000 forgotten novels, novellas and short stories she has uncovered indicate that early newspapers published fiction constantly, from Australia and all over the world, and everyone was reading it.

“The collection includes seven rediscovered titles from well-known writer Catherine Martin, author of the acclaimed 1890 novel The Australian Girl [my review].

“Martin was a feminist writer of her time but her stories were published anonymously or under a pseudonym and had therefore been lost to literary history until now, according to Dr Bode.

“You can visit the project and search, read, correct, add or export the works by visiting To Be Continued – The Australian Newspaper Fiction Database at

I’ll do that, just as soon as I get to spend a day at home. Meanwhile, one more pic …

Yes I know, it’s filthy. You wash your truck, it rains.


Linda Morris, Australian National University Researchers recover lost treasure trove, the Age, Melbourne, 1 Mar 2018 here

10 thoughts on “AWW Gen 1, Treasure Trove

  1. Well if that don’t prove that relying on ABC News is a mistake, I don’t know what is. We don’t get The Age any more so I had missed this news completely.
    Off now to explore the database…
    PS The Spouse wants to know what you are carrying in that rig.


    • I’d have missed it too except for Kay. Let us know what you find, I’m looking forward to reading another Catherine Martin.

      And I carry (dry powder) cement and lime – used for neutralising waste water and backfilling mine tunnels.


      • I haven’t been able to look at the site yet, the NBN is so slow today that pages keep timing out before they load, it’s driving me crazy…


      • Re your nbn problems, you don’t have data on your phone? I use my phone as backup broadband. And if there’s a hint of trouble I type offline into Word then copy the text over when I’m done.


  2. I have been thinking this would be the case for some time, in fact, Bill, because I’ve come across many stories in my searching of Trove for Monday Musings. We know novels were serialised in newspapers in the 19th century, but being able to search digital texts makes it so much easier to search on known names and track them down. It would be great to see Grattan Street Press and the like turn them into novels because trying to read via Trove would not be fun!


    • I’m thinking that there must be some cross-over with the AWW Challenge database. Not 21,000 of course, but a good number that have been tidied up by Project Gutenberg in particular and by people doing research degrees (like Narelle Ontivero) in C19th lit. I was a bit shocked by Prof. Bode saying she was surprised to find novels and stories in our early newspapers – I hope she was misquoted.


      • Yes, exactly – I hope she was too. I’ve had a potter around and I’m really pleased to see that if you access Trove from their database and do the data fixes there, you can then import them back to their database so that both databases get updated. So tempting to do but I have our family photos to catalogue. Mr Gums would not be impressed if I decided to fix up old Aussie fiction rather than our 30,000 or whatever photos!


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