Arthur W. Upfield Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Arthur W. Upfield’s originality comes mainly from two sources. One is his firsthand acquaintance with the whole of the Australian landscape, not only the towns, lakes, deserts, and mountains but also the infinite variety of fauna and flora that populate the continent. His readers can draw a map of Australia and place a particular crime. Upfield had Ernest Hemingway’s eye for detail and could bring alive the smallest incident peculiar to a certain area. Second is his vivid, totally believable characterization of Napoleon Bonaparte, who appears in most of his more than thirty novels. Bony can assume various characters, from swagman to deep-sea fisherman, depending on the place, to “get his man.” He also understands the different cultures in Australia and can mediate between them to restore order. Critics see the Americans James Fenimore Cooper and Herman Melville as models for Upfield’s humanism, symbolism, and rhetorical skills.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Asdell, Philip T. A Provisional Descriptive Bibliography of First Editions of the Works of Arthur W. Upfield. Frederick, Md.: P. T. Asdell, 1984. Attempts to list all first editions of Upfield’s work in the United States, England, and Australia.

Browne, Ray B. “The Frontier Heroism of Arthur W. Upfield.” Clues: A Journal of Detection 7 (Spring/Summer, 1986): 127-145. Detailed article focused on the setting (both social and geographic) of Upfield’s mysteries.

Browne, Ray B. The Spirit of Australia: The Crime Fiction of Arthur W. Upfield. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1988. Reads Upfield’s fiction as distinctively Australian and expressive of the essential spirit of the author’s adopted nation.

Donaldson, Betty. “Arthur William Upfield: September 1, 1888-February 13, 1964.” The Armchair Detective 8, no. 1 (November, 1974): 1-11. Memorial tribute to Upfield and evaluation of his work.

Hausladen, Gary. Places for Dead Bodies. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000. This study of the settings of mystery and detective novels includes a section on the Australian Outback of Upfield.

Hawke, Jessica. Follow My Dust! A Biography of Arthur Upfield. London: Heinemann, 1957. Hawke’s biography begins with an introduction written from the point of view of Inspector Bonaparte.

Knight, Stephen. Continent of Mystery: A Thematic History of Australian Crime Fiction. Melbourne, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 1997. Study of the dominant themes and concerns distinctive to the crime fiction of Australia. Sheds light on Upfield’s work. Bibliographic references and index.

Nile, Richard. The Making of the Australian Literary Imagination. St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2002. Discussion of prevalent features of Australian writing and the cultural and geographic influences on the continent’s literary history. Provides background for understanding Upfield’s work.