AWW Gen 2

Australian Women Writers Gen 2 Week 13-19 Jan. 2019

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Bertha Lawson by Florence Rodway

Australian Women Writers, Gen 2 (1890-1918)

The second generation of Australian writing, as I see it, covers the period 1890 to 1918. HM Green, who as I discussed earlier, divides my Gen 1 into two periods, 1788-1850 and 1850-1890, heads his account of this period Third Period 1890-1923, “Self-conscious Nationalism”.

In Australia the spirit of the nineties and early nineteen-hundreds… took the form, in the literary as in the social and political worlds, of a fervent democratic nationalism: it was based upon a broad social consciousness, a feeling of mutual relationship, that found its most characteristic expression in Lawson’s doctrine of mateship.

The writing, dominated by the influence of the Sydney Bulletin, could be called Bush Realism, an intense effort to portray Bush life in all its details, paralleled in the art world by Australia’s contribution to Impressionism, the Heidelberg School. This is a very fertile period for discussion with women’s suffrage, Federation, the anti-conscription movement, the Great War.

Men’s nationalistic writing in this period, led by the Bulletin, gave rise to the dominant myths of Australianness,  forming the baseline for all subsequent discussions of Australian writing. The Australian Legend or the Lone Hand, men on their own in and against the Bush is the generally accepted theme of this period, but we have already seen that bush-women were equally alone, facing the extra hardships of childbearing and child rearing, not to mention predatory men. There is also a further myth that began in this period, although it wasn’t generally recognized until the 1930s, and that was the myth of the Pioneers, men and women working together to carve out a space for themselves from virgin country (and it is only recently that we have begun contesting that “virgin”). Miles Franklin believed that she (under her own name and as Brent of Bin Bin) and Steele Rudd were the founding writers of this myth.

In the subsequent, post WWI period, women writers focused on social realism, often in an urban setting, and I have used this to distinguish Gen 2 writers from Gen 3. In particular, I place Miles Franklin (1879-1954) in Gen 2 and Katharine Susannah Prichard (1883-1969) in Gen 3.

Below I have listed firstly, all the women (in birth date order) and their works – poetry, novels, letters, journals – which have been republished or for which I have reviews (reviewer’s blog in brackets; wadh is me), and essays and books about them; and secondly reference works and essays about the period in general.

The contributors to AWW Gen 2 Week, Jan 2019 are listed (and warmly thanked) at the end of Journal: 026, On the Road Again (here)

Bill Holloway (26 Jan., 2019)


Agnes Hay (1837-1909) Trove

Louisa Lawson (1848-1920) ADB

Brian Matthews, Louisa (wadh)
The Australian Legend, Louisa Lawson vs Kaye Schaffer here

Barbara Baynton (1857-1929) ADB

Human Toll (1909) (wadh)
Bush Studies (1902) Imprint, 1993 –

Squeaker’s Mate (wadh) (Whispering Gums)
Bush Church (Whispering Gums)
Billy Skywonkie (Whispering Gums)
A Dreamer (Whispering Gums)
Scrammy ‘and (Whispering Gums)
The Chosen Vessel (Whispering Gums)

Penne Hackforth-Jones, Barbara Baynton, Between Two Worlds (1989) (wadh)
Sally Krimmer & Alan Lawson (ed.s), Barbara Baynton, UQP, 1980 (includes Human Toll and Bush Studies)
Whispering Gums, Monday musings on Australian literature: Barbara Baynton here

Alice Henry (1857-1929) ADB

Miles Franklin, On Dearborn Street (1981) (wadh)

Mary Gilmore (1865-1962) ADB

Anne Brooksbank, All My Love  (wadh)

Marion Knowles (1865-1949) ADB

Lilian Turner (1867-1956) Wiki

An Australian Lassie (1903) here

Mary Fullerton (1868-1946) ADB

Sylvia Martin, Passionate Friends, Onlywomen Press, London, 2001 (wadh)

Vida Goldstein (1869-1949) ADB

Ethel Turner (1870-1958) ADB

Tales from the Parthenon (1889-92) (Whispering Gums)
Seven Little Australians (1894) (Mrs B’s Book Reviews)
The Story of a Baby (1896) here
In the Mist of the Mountains (1906) (Brona’s Books)

Beatrice Grimshaw (1870-1953) ADB

Mrs Aeneas Gunn (1870-1961) ADB

We of the Never Never (1908) here

Louise Mack (1870-1935) ADB

The World is Round (1893) (Whispering Gums) (Whispering Gums)
Teens: A Story of Australian School Girls (1897) here (wadh)
Girls Together (1898) (Whispering Gums)
The Romance of a Woman of Thirty (1911)
A Woman’s Experiences in the Great War (1915) here, audio (Nancy Elin)

Whispering Gums, Monday musings on Australian literature: Louise Mack here
ANZ LitLovers, Australian Women War Reporters: Boer War to Vietnam here

Henry Handel Richardson (1870-1946) ADB

Maurice Guest (1908) (ANZ LitLovers)
The Getting of Wisdom (1910) (Reading Matters) (Brona’s Books)
The Fortunes of Richard Mahony
Australia Felix (1917) (Brona’s Books)
The Way Home (1925) (Brona’s Books)
Ultima Thule (1929) (Brona’s Books)
The Adventures of Cuffy Mahony and other stories (1934) (wadh) (ANZ LitLovers)
The Young Cosima (1939) (wadh)

Nettie Palmer, Henry Handel Richardson: A Study, A&R, 1950. (ANZ LitLovers).

Elinor Mordaunt (1872-1942) ADB

Mary Louisa (Mollie) Skinner (1876-1955) ADB

Letters of a V.A.D. (1918) here

The Australian Legend, Writing The Boy in the Bush, here

Bertha Lawson (1876-1957) ADB: Bio of her mother, activist Matilda McNamara

My Henry Lawson (1943) (wadh)

May Gibbs (1877-1969) ADB

Mary Grant Bruce (1878-1958) ADB

Billabong series (Michelle Scott Tucker)
The Early Tales (1898,1900) (Whispering Gums)
A Little Bush Maid (1910) download
Mates at Billabong (1912) download (Brenda)
Back to Billabong (1914) download
Captain Jim (1916) download
Possum (1917) download

Miles Franklin (1879-1954) ADB

My Brilliant Career (1901) (Book Around the Corner) (Booker Talk)
Joseph Furphy (1944) (wadh)
see also: Miles Franklin page for a comprehensive listing of reviews and posts

Debbie Robson (here) is preparing a half hour talk on Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Radio Adelaide, Christmas Day 2019

Ethel Anderson (1883-1958) ADB

Miss Aminta Wirraway and the Sin of Lust (wadh)
Juliet McCree is Accused of Gluttony

Nettie Palmer (1885-1964) ADB

The Australian Legend, Such is Life, Abridged! here

Capel Boake/Doris Boake Kerr (1889-1944) ADB

Whispering Gums, Monday musings on Australian literature: Capel Boake here
Whispering Gums, Capel Boake: Three short stories here

Rose Boldrewood (?-?) oldest daughter of Rolf Boldrewood

The Complications at Collaroi (1911)
Recollections of Rolf Boldrewood (1922)


Gen 1 writers whose later work reflects the influence of Bush Realism –

Rosa Praed (1851-1935) ADB, UniMelb

Sister Sorrow (1916) (Jessica White)

Mary Gaunt (1861-1942) ADB, UniMelb


Gen 3 writers whose early work reflects the influence of Bush Realism –

Katharine Sussanah Prichard (1883-1969) ADB

The Pioneers (1915) (Nathan Hobby) (Whispering Gums) (ANZLitLovers)
Windlestraws (1916) (Nathan Hobby)
Short Stories –
The Bridge (1917) Trove (Whispering Gums)
Christmas Tree (1919) Trove (Whispering Gums)
Potch and Colour [collection] (1944) (Nathan Hobby)

Nathan Hobby is writing a KSP biography and has blogged about it over the course of a number of years (here)


The Australian Women Writers Challenge have put up an excellent site (here) listing all books by Australian women, available online, sorted by decade, up to the 1930s.


Reference works and essays

Nettie Palmer, Modern Australian Literature (1924)
Vance Palmer, The Legend of the Nineties (1954) (wadh)
Russel Ward, The Australian Legend (1958)
Frank Moorhouse (ed.), The Drover’s Wife (2017) (wadh)

Colin Roderick was probably the most influential commentator for most of the C20th, but he is shockingly contemptuous of women.

Feminists who contested the men-centred (men-only, really) myths of the Australian Bush include Kay Schaffer, Marilyn Lake, Gail Reekie, Anne Summers. The Pioneer myth was developed by John Hirst, Judith Godden, Jemima Mowbray (and others).


The main male writers were: Henry Lawson, Steele Rudd, Joseph Furphy, AB Paterson, Paul Wenz and poets Henry Kendall, Adam Lindsay Gordon, Maurice Furnley.


Florence Rodway (1881-1971) I saw that Rodway was ‘encouraged’ by Archibald of the Bulletin and so I looked her up. She was mainly a portrait painter – I assume the portrait at the top of this page is of Henry and Bertha Lawson’s daughter – I couldn’t see that she contributed to the Bulletin, though she did to the Lone Hand. Apparently there is a good collection of her work in the Art Gallery NSW. (More here)

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