Cultural Identity in Nineteenth-Century Australian Literature Criticism: Fiction - Essay

Frederick Sinnett (essay date 1856)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Sinnett, Frederick. “The Fiction Fields of Australia.” In The Writer in Australia: A Collection of Literary Documents 1856 to 1964, edited by John Barnes, pp. 8-32. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1969.

[In the following essay, originally published in 1856, Sinnett acknowledges the lack of any first-rate Australian novels by the middle of the nineteenth century but calls Catherine Helen Spence's Clara Morison “the best Australian novel” yet published and offers commentary on Charles Rowcroft's Tales of the Colonies.]


Man can no more do without works of fiction than he can do without clothing, and, indeed, not so...

(The entire section is 10713 words.)

Henry Gyles Turner and Alexander Sutherland (essay date 1898)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Turner, Henry Gyles, and Alexander Sutherland. “Fiction.” In The Development of Australian Literature, pp. 78-106. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1898.

[In the following excerpt, Turner and Sutherland present an overview of Australian fiction from the later years of the nineteenth century, including the works of many notable female writers.]

Excluding the numerous Australian stories which have been published in England by writers as yet unknown to fame, many of which may have been written in the Colonies, and leaving out of count the hundreds of stories that began and ended their career in the local magazines and weekly journals, a list of something over...

(The entire section is 7372 words.)

C. Hartley Grattan (essay date 1929)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Grattan, C. Hartley. Australian Literature, pp. 13-29. Seattle: University of Washington Book Store, 1929.

[In the following excerpt, Grattan offers a general assessment of Australian literature and remarks on five outstanding nineteenth-century Australian novels.]


As in all young countries, the culture of Australia is to a very small extent an integral part of the national life. It has not worked itself into the social fabric. It is something tacked on. Something apart. The economic bones of the country protrude themselves. Such cultural life as does exist is almost as unsubstantial as those idealized houses painted on billboards....

(The entire section is 3225 words.)

Cecil Hadgraft (essay date 1960)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hadgraft, Cecil. “The Earliest Fiction” and “The Three Themes of Fiction.” In Australian Literature: A Critical Account to 1955, pp. 11-26, 40-52. London: William Heineman, 1960.

[In the following excerpt, Hadgraft reviews the principal Australian novels of the nineteenth century.]


The first novel written in Australia was also printed here—in Hobart in three volumes (1830-1). In this novel, Quintus Servinton. A Tale, Founded upon Incidents of Real Occurrence, its author drew upon his own experiences. He was Henry Savery (1793/4-1842), transported to Van Diemen's Land in 1825. He was a convict...

(The entire section is 11085 words.)

Clive Hamer (essay date December 1965)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hamer, Clive. “The Surrender to Truth in the Early Australian Novel.” Australian Literary Studies 2, no. 2 (December 1965): 103-16.

[In the following essay, Hamer highlights recurrent themes in Australian novels published between 1859 and 1889.]

The period 1859 to 1889 is a distinctive period marking the beginnings of the Australian novel. The first known Australian novel was published in 1830—Quintus Servinton, a tale of convict life written by a convict, Henry Savery—but the first novel of note, written by a novelist of note, was The Recollections of Geoffry Hamlyn (1859), written by Henry Kingsley, who subsequently made a name for...

(The entire section is 5551 words.)

Adrian Mitchell (essay date 1981)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Mitchell, Adrian. “Fiction.” In The Oxford History of Australian Literature, edited by Leonie Kramer, pp. 27-172. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1981.

[In the following excerpt, Mitchell concentrates on the principal Australian novels written between 1844 and 1889, categorizing most of them as romances and appraising the language, style, plots, and themes in these works.]

James Tucker's Ralph Rashleigh is something of an anomaly in the history of Australian fiction. Written apparently in 1844-45, it was first printed in an abridged and re-written form as a volume of memoirs in 1929, and then published in full in 1952. Since then it has...

(The entire section is 11142 words.)

Joseph Jones and Johanna Jones (essay date 1983)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Jones, Joseph, and Johanna Jones. Australian Fiction, pp. 1-15. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1983.

[In the following excerpt, Jones and Jones survey convict, settler, and Anglo-Australian fiction prior to 1890.]


In the spring of 1788, the First Fleet of eleven nondescript vessels set sail for New Holland, carrying just under fifteen hundred convicts and their military guards to exactly where, and what, they weren't at all certain. Not many years before this event, it could be said, the English novel had embarked on a voyage equally unforeseeable. To be sure, it had not committed any crimes but was...

(The entire section is 5834 words.)

Michael Wilding (essay date 1997)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wilding, Michael. “‘Weird Melancholy’: Inner and Outer Landscapes in Marcus Clarke's Stories.” In Studies in Classic Australian Fiction, pp. 9-31. Sydney: Sydney Association for Studies in Society and Culture, 1997.

[In the following essay, Wilding follows the link between Marcus Clarke's descriptions of natural settings and his likely drug-induced exploration of internal landscapes in his short fiction.]

When Hamilton Mackinnon collected Clarke's stories in The Austral Edition of the Selected Works of Marcus Clarke (1890),1 he placed as the first item of the ‘Australian Tales and Sketches’ section two pages entitled ‘Australian...

(The entire section is 8107 words.)