Category Archives

To Be Continued

Just in time for Christmas

‘This collection,’ says Imelda Whelehan, ‘is for everyone who wants their Christmas stories to mirror their Christmas location – with the heat on their backs, perhaps wondering if lowering clouds presage a storm or more extreme weather event. They will be best savoured as the barbecue sizzles or while dipping a toe in the water, enjoying fresh raspberries, cherries or apricots, or during lunch at the cricket.’

‘It might be a tonic, too,’ she points out, ‘for those travellers who find themselves in the northern hemisphere longing for the characteristic smells and sounds of an Australian summer holiday.’

Professor Whelehan is a scholar of women’s writing, feminism, popular culture and literary adaptations and the current Dean of Higher Research at the Australian National University. She and her family moved to Australia from England eight years ago where Christmas was shaped by Dickensian images of Victorian English celebrations recycled on chocolate boxes and biscuit tins and Christmas Day was accompanied by adaptations of A Christmas Carol on television. Like all migrants, she says, ‘we gradually acclimatised and adjusted our family traditions to make the most of a beautiful Australian summer.’

Imelda has written the introduction to our collection of ‘lost’ nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Australian Christmas stories that have not been previously published beyond their original serialisation in newspapers. We are delighted with the gorgeous cover from the talented team at Giraffe, using a perfect image by photographer Jane Worner at Austockphoto.

The book is available for pre-order in our online store.

 

Forthcoming: Christmas Eve in a Gum Tree

Christmas in fiction – a time when families reunite and love blossoms, when evil is overcome and tragedy is averted. Cruelty and revenge are offset by heroism and forgiveness, and constancy in love is rewarded. But in Australia Christmas stories are also marked by fire and flood, cyclone and drought, and the perils of isolation. Cattle drovers find themselves stuck in a gumtree, a sheep stealer’s son is lost in the bush, and love’s ‘cooee’ is heard as far away as London. All the drama of nature and humanity is vividly recounted in this collection of nineteenth-century Australian Christmas stories.

Christmas Eve in a Gum Tree is the second title in Obiter’s ‘To Be Continued’ series. It collects previously unpublished stories unearthed in an Australian Research Council funded project that has produced a bibliographic index and full-text archive of fiction in Australian newspapers from 1803 to 1955. The stories are contextualised in an introduction by Professor Imelda Whelehan, a scholar of women’s writing, feminism, popular culture and literary adaptations and the current Dean of Higher Research at the Australian National University.

Christmas Eve in a Gum Tree and Other Lost Australian Christmas Stories will be published next month. Further info soon!

You can purchase the first title in the ‘To Be Continued…’ series, How I Pawned My Opals and Other Lost Stories by Catherine Martin, from the shop section of our website.

To Be Continued – you can get involved!

We are working on some more exciting collections of nineteenth-century fiction in our ‘To Be Continued’ series – details soon! – but in the meantime, you can get involved in the project by editing texts and adding your own discoveries to the 21,000 works already uncovered.

Associate Professor Katherine Bode’s amazing Australian Newspaper Fiction Database has analysed the mass-digitised newspaper archive, and national treasure, called Trove to bring to light a vast new collection of fiction that is providing new insights in the development of Australian literary, publishing and reading culture.

You can explore the database, but you can also help correct the text and add instalments and new stories – many tens of thousands of stories remain undiscovered in the newspaper pages.

Correcting text will make searching the database more reliable and will also improve the quality of the newspaper text in Trove. Adding newly discovered instalments and publications will grow our knowledge of what fiction was published and available to read.

How I Pawned My Opals and Other Lost Stories is the first title in Obiter’s ‘To Be Continued’ series. Kath Bode’s introduction to this collection gives us a greater appreciation of the work of Catherine Martin and a taste of the deeper understanding of Australia’s literary history that the Australian Newspaper Fiction Database is opening up to us.

National coverage for How I Pawned My Opals

The first title in our ‘To Be Continued’ series was launched at the beginning of this month at a public lecture by Associate Professor Katherine Bode at the Australian National University. Both the lecture and the book were warmly received – and Kath became a media star for 48 hours with pieces in the Sydney Morning Herald, Canberra Times and interviews and coverage on radio (you can listen to the ABC’s PM with Linda Mottram). The excitement has us all fired up to keep moving with further titles!

We will be especially looking at stories that are uniquely Australian whether they are about the early days of Botany Bay or bushrangers or cricket! The stories that have stood out for Kath – and which the Obiter team are particularly looking forward to reading – are the ones that represent Aboriginal characters in complex ways. Kath says that literary historians have long thought that Australian fiction followed the legal lie of ‘terra nullius’ in obscuring the presence of Australia’s original inhabitants, but much of the local writing about bush life is characterised by consistent depiction of Aboriginal characters.

Stay tuned as we dig more ‘lost’ stories out of Kath’s literary treasure trove of a database!

Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Announcing the launch of How I Pawned My Opals and Other Lost Stories

We are delighted to announce that the first title in our To Be Continued series will be launched at the Australian National University on Thursday 1 March. This project is a collaboration between Obiter and Associate Professor Katherine Bode who has written the introduction to this collection of Catherine Martin’s nineteenth-century tales of manners. The book will be launched at a public lecture – Uncovering the true history of Australian literature – at the Australian National University in which Kath will explore the broader implications of her research. We’ll celebrate the book with a glass of champagne after the lecture and books will be available for sale.

We hope you can join us! Event registration.

 

An emerging sisterhood of women

Katherine Bode has given us her introduction to How I Pawned My Opals and Other Lost Stories and, as the best introductions do, she gives us a greater appreciation of the work of Catherine Martin.

Martin’s family (the Macaulays) began their life in Australia as farm labourers but by the time Catherine moved to Adelaide in 1876, aged 29, she was well educated, fluent in a number of modern languages, particularly German, and widely read in literature, theology and philosophy. Although Martin escaped the extreme poverty of her childhood, she had to work to support herself for much of her life.

Catherine married Frederick in 1882, when she was 34. He was an accountant, social reformer, and writer. The marriage seems to have been a happy and equal one. They shared a belief in social justice, a desire to write and, and together they travelled the world. Martin described Frederick and herself as “comrades”.

No wonder, then, that Martin’s stories have an independent and strongly delineated female character at their core. These women are different in so many ways but they are all decisive and determined, and resist or actively go against the mores of their respective societies.

It is Bode’s fascinating insight that although Martin, with her depiction of Stella Courtland in her most famous work, An Australian Girl, has long been seen as responsible for creating a uniquely Australian form of the ‘New Woman’, these lost stories show that she conceived of this figure as a global phenomenon, an emerging sisterhood of women independent in thought and action.

We are looking forward to introducing these women to you!

 

 

Satirical photo from 1901, with the caption ‘New Woman—Wash Day’, US Library of Congress.

Overlooked?

Catherine Martin was not as well-known and appreciated as she deserved to be when she was writing from the 1870s to the 1920s, partly because so much of her work was published anonymously or under a pseudonym. Her most popular book, The Australian Girl, was published in 1890 under the name ‘Mrs Alick Macleod’.

She has also suffered in hindsight through comparisons with her contemporary and friend Catherine Spence whose 1854 book Clara Morison: A Tale of South Australia During the Gold Fever was the first novel about Australia written by a woman. Spence also fought for female suffrage as vice-president of the Women’s Suffrage League of South Australia (South Australian women were enfranchised in 1894). So while Spence had her portrait painted by Margaret Preston, appeared on a stamp in the 1970s, and was the face on a commemorative Centenary of Federation five-dollar note in 2001, Martin is largely forgotten.

We can’t give her a stamp, but our collection of Martin works How I Pawned My Opals and Other Lost Stories will introduce her work to a new generation of, hopefully more appreciative, readers. It will be available in November.

 

Huge congrats to our collaborator Katherine Bode

Katherine Bode, Associate Professor at the Australian National University and our collaborator on How I Pawned My Opals and Other Lost Stories, has been awarded a $950,000 Australian Research Council Future Fellowship for a project that will generate new knowledge of literary culture and digital approaches to research in the humanities.

ARC Future Fellowships support research in areas of critical national importance by giving outstanding researchers incentives to conduct their research in Australia. They are specifically designed to attract and retain the best and brightest mid-career researchers, who too often choose to work overseas to further their careers due to lack of opportunities in Australia.

Obiter is very pleased to be working with one of the best and brightest scholars in Australia!

Yes, we do have a book coming!

Nell has a friend in need but will her kind heart wreck her chance for future happiness? Is Marie’s runaway kookaburra the last straw or the answer to her problems? A meddlesome prank and a stray kitten bring Helen and Gabriel together but will he be able to admit his feelings? Will Teresa’s faith in the Madonna bring her beloved Carlo home safely from the coral fishing? When Lily goes missing will Archibald trust his wife or listen to the ‘evidence’ of his domineering mother?

We think you will enjoy meeting the loyal, wilful and feisty heroines in Catherine Martin’s nineteenth-century tales of manners. How I Pawned My Opals and Other Lost Stories is a collaboration between Obiter and Dr Katherine Bode, Associate Professor at the Australian National University working in digital humanities, literary studies and book history. Catherine Martin (1848?-1937) was the author of poems, essays, short stories and novels, including the popular An Australian Girl (1890). All her stories in this collection were published in the Australian press between 1881 and 1898 but they have never been published in book form before.

Katherine Bode’s Australian Research Council funded project, To Be Continued, has unearthed an astonishing bibliographic index and full-text archive of fiction in Australian newspapers from 1803 to 1955. How I Pawned My Opals is just the first tapping of this rich vein of lost fiction.

Obiter currently ships to Australia and New Zealand. For other destinations please contact us. Dismiss