An exhibition of material from the Monash University Library

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92. Franklin, Miles. 1879-1954.

Bring the Monkey: A light novel / by Miles Franklin. (Sydney: Endeavour Press, 1933)

Mary Fullerton suggested to Franklin that they try their hand at detective fiction. At first, Franklin rejected the idea, writing to Mary in February 1930, “No, you are wrong, I have no invention none at all, in the detective plot way”.79 However, in 1931-32, Franklin stayed with Fullerton for fifteen months and Fullerton’s suggestion came to fruition. In her detective spoof Bring the Monkey (1933), Franklin is critical of degeneration among the English upper classes, comparing it unfavourably to the freshness of Australian blood. Her story focuses on a pair of Australian women, Zarl Osterley and Ercildoun Carrington, who live in London with a pet monkey, Percy. Percy seems modelled after Peter, a pet monkey owned by Jean Hamilton, a close friend of Mary and Mabel whose visit overlapped with Franklin’s. Zarl and Ercildoun gatecrash a house party at the country seat of Baron Tattingwood in Supersnoring, with Ercildoun disguised as Zarl’s Italian maid and Percy’s keeper. In the course of the weekend, the Eastern jewels of a Hollywood starlet are stolen and Captain Stopworth, the true love of the Baron’s wife, is murdered in a variation of the locked room puzzle. It eventually comes to light that Zarl and another houseguest, Jimmy Wengham, have stolen the jewels for a lark. Captain Stopworth has been murdered by the Baron in order to prevent his wife from leaving him and from reuniting with a long lost daughter she had with the Captain.

While Percy epitomises Darwin’s “heroic little monkey,” the Baron is the picture of degeneration, with hair everywhere, “a big red face with small eyes, a long ungainly nose, a narrow forehead and a sloppy mouth”. He is even described as ape-like. Zarl, on the other hand, is smart, spirited, and independent. Both she and Ercildoun are able to adapt to alien environments, a fact registered in their successful passing of Ercildoun as Zarl’s Italian maid. In contrast to the racial and class divisions displayed by their British counterparts, the Australians exercise a democratic outlook.

Although Ercildoun first condemns the starlet’s Indian servant, she realizes that he too is only performing the servant role in order to make his way through university.

Not only is there a suggestion of national superiority, but also a sexual superiority. The Baron tells Ercildoun, “Brains in women is a sign of decadence”. Precisely because Franklin has this theory come from the Baron’s lips, it can be dismissed. While the Baron receives a form of poetic justice in dying of cancer, Zarl is hardly a figure of responsibility. She fails to admit to the jewel theft and is content to leave Ercildoun as a primary suspect. Like Zarl, Franklin’s detective novel avoids moral accountability and reminds the reader of the importance of pleasure. Franklin rewards her errant female figure and revels in female friendship.

93. Gwynne, Agnes M.

The mystery of lakeside house / by A.M. Gwynne. (Melbourne : Robertson & Mullens, 1925)

94. McKee-Wright, April.

Murder rose / by April McKee-Wright. (Sydney : New Order Publications, [1944?])

The daughter of Zora Cross and David McKee Wright, April McKee-Wright published three mystery novels toward the end of World War II. Murder Rose is set in the Blue Mountains, an area she knew well.

95. Ranken, J. L. [Jean] and Jane Clunies-Ross

Murder Pie / by J.L. Ranken ... [et al] ; edited by J.L. Ranken, Jane Clunies Ross. 3rd ed. (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1936)

The 1930s saw a rise in interest in detective fiction. Various publishing novelties were tried to further stimulate the public's interest. In 1931 Hodder and Stoughton in London published The Floating Admiral, with each chapter written by a different detective novelist. It included chapters by Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. Following its popularity, Angus and Robertson published an Australian version, Murder Pie, in 1936 with chapters by such authors as Walter Murdoch, M. Barnard Eldershaw, and Ethel Turner.


Flat Case 9

As Juliet Flesch points out, the audience for romance novels in the English-speaking world is, overwhelmingly, women.80 Some romantic novelists attracted a celebrity status and many had large fan bases. As demonstrated by the titles in this exhibition, many novels were later adapted to the screen where they also achieved great popularity.

96. Forrest, M. (Mabel), 1872-1935.

The wild moth / by M. Forrest. Popular ed. (London : Cassell, 1927)

Growing up in rural Australia, Mabel and her sister Ethel were educated at home by their mother “who spoke several languages fluently and had been to school in France and Germany.” Mabel had an unhappy first marriage with the selector, John Frederick Burkinshaw, who was unable to support Mabel and their daughter. Mabel began writing professionally as a means to support the family. In 1902, she divorced Burkinshaw and married John Forrest the same year. The theme of fidelity and betrayal were dominant themes in her work. Mabel became one of the most successful professional women writers in Australia of the early twentieth century and was an admired poet and short story writer. However, her most successful work was The Wild Moth which tells the somewhat predictable story of the simple country girl who goes to the big smoke, is exploited and eventually returns home. A suitor who has known her when she was younger rescues her from attentions being forced upon her by a colleague of her father.

Charles Chauvel would turn the novel into the film, The Moth of Moonbi.

97. Mitchell, Mary, 1894-1973.

A warning to wantons : A fantastic romance, setting forth the not underserved but awful fate which befell a minx / by Mary Mitchell. (Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday Doran, 1934)

Her father, Sir Edward Mitchell, the principal of Melbourne’s Scotch College decided that Mary Mitchell and her three sisters should be educated by governesses and then sent on a tour of Europe to finish their education. Working for various Red Cross organisations, Mary wrote only as a hobby until A Warning to Wantons was published. Described as 'a combination of ultra-sophisticated worldliness and romantic melodrama”, it was an instant success. There was some surprise that a colonial lady could produce such a cosmopolitan, racy work. As the Australian Dictionary of Biography entry notes, “The Gothic fantasy of the plot and the charm of the gamine heroine's innocence and amorality, in contrast to the ironic astringency of the social observation, appealed widely; it became a Book Society's book of the month and was translated into Swedish, Hungarian, French and German.” It was turned into a film in 1949. Although Mary went on to publish over twenty more novels, none had such broad appeal as A Warning to Wantons.

98. Littlejohn, Agnes, 185-1944.

Mirage of the desert / by Agnes Littlejohn. (Sydney : J.A. Packer, 1910)

Known more for her poetry and short stories, Mirage of the Desert was Agnes Littlejohn’s only novel.

99. Deamer, Dulcie, 1890-1972.

As it was in the beginning / by Dulcie Deamer ; illustrated by Norman Lindsay. (Melbourne : Frank Wilmot, 1929)

100. Bjelke Petersen, Marie.

Jungle night / Marie Bjelke Petersen. (London : Hutchinson, [1937])

Born in 1874 near Copenhagen, Marie was schooled in Denmark, Germany, and England. The family migrated to Tasmania in 1891. Illness forced Marie to consider try her hand at writing for a career. Her first three romantic religious sketches were very successful; The Mysterious Stranger (1913) was deemed a classic by The Times and translated into Arabic. Her first novel, The Captive Singer (1917) sold over 100,000 copies and 40,000 in Danish. In 1921, The Triad noted that, “Her people are real…and their inconsistencies are credible. She is not afraid of passion, though her theme and treatment are entirely…respectable.” However, she recalled that The Bulletin “loved making fun of my lovemaking.” Marie attracted a huge fan base and was often referred to as Australia’s Marie Correlli. She was also the aunt of infamous Queensland premier, Joh Bjelke Petersen.

Flat case 10

101. Reynolds, Broda.

A black silk stocking / by Broda Reynolds. (Sydney : Henry Edgar Reynolds, 1907

102. Brookes, Mabel Balcombe, 1894-1975.

On the knees of the gods / by Mabel Balcombe Brookes ; with four three-color pictures and eight full-page line illustrations by Penleigh Boyd. (Melbourne : Melville & Mullen, [1918])

103. Rosman, Alice Grant.

The sixth journey / by Alice Grant Rosman. (New York, Minton, Balch & company, 1931)

104. Boake, Capel, 1889-1944.

The Romany mark / by Capel Boake ; illustrated by Percy Lindsay. (Sydney : N.S.W. Bookstall, 1923)

Boake’s second novel is about life in a circus. This edition has a cover illustration by Percy Lindsay.

105. James, Winifred, 1876-1941.

Bachelor Betty / by Winifred James. Colonial edition. (London : Constable & Company, 1907)

Born in Melbourne, James worked as a journalist before moving to England in 1905 where she embarked on a successful career as a novelist and travel writer. Her best known and most successful work was Letters to My Son (1910). She returned to live in Australia in 1940. True to the genre, by the novel’s end Betty is not destined to remain a ‘bachelor’ for much longer.


Flat Case 11

106. Kelly, Ethel Knight, 1875-1949.

Twelve milestones : being the peregrinations of Ethel Knight Kelly. (London : Brentano, 1929)

Ethel Knight Kelly was born in 1875 in New Brunswick, Canada but brought up partly in Britain. From childhood Ethel ‘enjoyed dramatic action’ and her favourite novels were those by ‘Ouida’ and Rider Haggard. She married when very young but was widowed within a year. She became well-known on the stage in the United States and arrived in Sydney in March 1903 to appear in the comedy, Are You a Mason? She married Thomas Herbert Kelly later that year and left the world of professional acting in October. With abundant energy, plenty of beauty, personality, and wit, she quickly established a profile as a socialite and was well-known for her ‘original ideas’. In 1911, she published a book, Frivolous Peeps at India following a visit there and between 1904 and 1913 had four children. She helped organise many fund-raising activities during World War I including a dolls’ carnival and appearing in plays. From 1919, the Kellys made regular visits to England and Europe and in 1922, she edited the woman’s page of Smith’s Weekly. In her capacity as journalist she was allowed to visit Tutankhamun’s tomb which inspired her to write the novel, Why the Sphinx Smiles (1925). From about 1925, Ethel lived mainly in Florence. She wrote another novel Zara(1927) and her memoir Twelve Milestones (1929). She returned to Sydney in 1934. She maintained her charity work and gave to causes that included, the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, the Actors’ Benevolent Fund, the Women’s and St Vincent’s Hospitals and the Kindergarten Union of New South Wales.

107. Bates, Daisy, 1859-1951.

The passing of the aborigines : a lifetime spent among the natives of Australia / Daisy Bates ; with a foreword by Sir George Murray and an introduction by Arthur Mee. [2nd Australian ed.] (1938; London : Murray [1947])

Born in Tipperary, Ireland, Daisy Bates’ mother died in her infancy. On the death of her maternal grandmother when Daisy was about eight years old, she was sent to London. Suspected of having tuberculosis, she was sent to Australia in 1884 where she lived briefly as a guest of Bishop G.H. Stanton. On 13 March 1884, she married Edwin Henry Murrant who is almost certainly Harry Harbord Morant of Breaker Morant fame. Shortly afterwards, they separated. After a short stint as a governess, she married the cattleman, Jack Bates, in 1885 and had a son, Arnold. In 1894, she left her husband to work on the Review of Reviews in England. She returned to Australia in 1899 and worked on the Trappist Aboriginal Mission at Beagle Bay near

Broome. In 1904, she compiled a dictionary of the Bibbulmum language. By 1912 she had established the first of the isolated camps in which she lived for lengthy periods. In 1914, she was invited to the Attend a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and arranged a crossing of the Nullabor (402 km) in a small cart pulled by camels. Between 1912 and 1945, she lived almost entirely with the Aborigines, collecting material about their customs and legends. The Aborigines called her ‘Kabbarli’ (wise woman, grandmother). Although many applauded the altruism of her acts, Daisy Bates believed that she was motivated by similar reasons that had led her to enjoy activities such as hockey, tennis, and fox-hunting. Her views were controversial, particularly in respect to her opposition to miscegenation and her assertions concerning Aboriginal cannibalism. Her work has not been well-received by anthropologists although it reveals a strong empirical thread and she was careful “never to intrude my own intelligence” upon the Aborigines.

A small woman (5’4”), she stood out in maintaining Edwardian dress and decorum in the desert (wearing even her gloves). She wrote around 300 articles about the Aborigines and was a staunch advocate for the reform of Aboriginal welfare. Her autobiography, My Natives and I was published in serial form in Australian newspapers in 1936 and her most significant work, The Passing of the Aborigines (1938) was published with the aid of Ernestine Hill. By 1945, she returned to Adelaide where a secretary described her as ‘an imperialist, an awful snob…a grand old lady’. Radcliffe-Brown likened her mind to a well-stocked but very untidy sewing basket.

108. Gilmore, Mary, Dame, 1865-1962.

Old days, old ways : a book of recollections / by Mary Gilmore. (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1934)

As an infant of three, Mary Gilmore was particularly sensitive to ballads such as “The Irish Emigrant” and “The Bonnie Hills of Scotland” not just in terms of their affective rendition of place but also for their rhythm. Gilmore recalls beginning to write when she was seven:

Hitherto, I had written set copies and dictation, but had not known that I could use words to express my own thoughts. I could scarcely eat, and never played at the school at dinner, filling slate after slate with compositions, imaginative and descriptive of natural phenomena such as sunshine, red roads, wind, rain, sky, the colours of a cow, or how wonderful was the shine and colour of a chestnut horse…

109. Anderson, Ethel, 1883-1958.

Adventures in Appleshire / by Ethel Anderson. (Sydney : Angus and Robertson, 1944)

Ethel Anderson was born in 1883 at Lillington, England, the child of Australian-born parents. In Sydney she was educated at home and at Sydney Church of England Grammar School for Girls. In 1904 she married Major Austin Anderson at Bombay, India. Major Anderson served in World War I and continued his military career after the war, retiring as Brigadier in 1924. The Andersons moved to Sydney where Austin Anderson began his long tenure of service for several governors. Drawing on her experiences in Australia, England and India, Ethel Anderson began contributing to a variety of periodicals. During the 1940s she published two volumes of verse and four volumes of essays and short stories. She also edited the letters of Patrick Hore-Ruthven. Anderson's knowledge of English, French and classical literature is reflected in her prose and poetry. Her admirable experimentation with metre and form in poetry is matched by the rich use of fantasy and comedy in her prose.

Left with little money after her husband's death in 1949, Anderson earned her living by writing. Her novella, At Parramatta, was published in 1956. Ethel Anderson died at Turramurra in 1958.

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