Reading Culture and Reading in 19th-Century Australia
Summary and Keywords
Reading practices and tastes were transported to colonial Australia along with European colonists. Access to and circulation of books and newspapers in the colonies were subject to the vagaries of distance, travel, and transport, and these had a concomitant impact on reading patterns and access, as well as on the development of local writing and publishing. Trade routes, and the disjunction of inland versus sea routes, may have had some influence on localized reading and distribution. The early history of libraries and booksellers in the Australian colonies, publication patterns, and marketing give clues to reading patterns. Examining the reading accounts and movements of individual readers, and individual texts, provides further detail and context to the environment and situatedness of reading in the Australian colonies, as well as the impact of transport as an idea, and an influence on texts and reading.
In the preface to her 1895 pulp sensational novel The Newest Woman, the elocutionist, actor, sportswoman, and author Millie Finkelstein offers a spatial outline of her idea of the future, covering “all spheres of modern society, moving from the aristocratic halls of ‘Rupertswood’ to the hovels of the lowest parts of the metropolis; now dealing with the feverish follies of Flemington, and now peering into the prison cells.”1 Movement is key to the novel, from the opening scene when the protagonists arrive from England by “Electric ship” through the perambulations around the high and low life of Melbourne and surrounds. The novel closes with a dynamic departure from Port Melbourne Pier and a series of dramatic (presumably “electric”) shipwrecks. The physical material novel itself is bound with local advertising, and the subscript from pages 33 to 107 enjoins the reader to “Read the Melbourne Sportsman—Published every Tuesday.” The page of advertisements immediately following the final page of the story enjoins continued action: “READ! READ! READ!”
Books were mobile markers in colonial Australia, carried into, between, and among the scattered European settlements along the shoreline of the continent, and later inland. In the 1960s the influential Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey made a case for the shaping influence of distance and transport on Australian development in his book The Tyranny of Distance.2 The study ran a grand historical narrative of a kind now rightly disputed, around the overcoming of barriers and the inevitable triumph of progress and the human spirit.3 The global commercial transactions that Blainey saw driving the development of Australia are too epic to refer directly to the print trade and cultural developments, although Blainey’s grand shifts impacted the market and movement of cultural goods such as books and newspapers as much as they did grain and livestock.4 The early Australian colonies were at an extreme distance (almost 12,000 miles) from Britain, seen as the primary cultural center, and this presented geographical challenges in the acquisition and circulation of reading material, the sales of literary products, and the establishment of reading cultures. The arrival of ships across much of the 19th century around Australia meant new reading material: booksellers in every colony routinely advertised the arrival of individual ships, and later mail steamers, as indication of new supplies. William Moffitt, bookseller in Sydney in the 1830s and 1840s, advertised his acquisition of copies of Pickwick, as part of a ship’s “arrival with splendid Annuals for 1839 . . . With a collection of valuable Standard Works, too numerous for an advertisement.”5 In Melbourne, forty years later, in 1879, “every monthly mail the newest and freshest issues from the leading publishing houses in London and Paris, and sometimes, even, copies in advance of the home publication, are displayed on the counters of Messrs. Robertson’s and Mullen’s establishments.”6 As the century advanced, there was less significant distance and possible disjunction between individual coastal settlements. The distances were progressively spanned by increasingly efficient sea travel, but unevenly and variably by land, making for different patterns of reading and access and availability in the colonial coastal cities, inland towns, and inland settlements, particularly for volume and journal reading, while newspaper content and coherence was enabled by technologies including the railroad, and most notably the telegraph.7 The logistics of acquiring reading material affects patterns of literary activity everywhere, but these were particularly significant in colonial Australia, where uneven and disjointed road, rail, and mail systems disrupted narratives by lengthening the gaps between the availability of numbers of serialized texts, and varied access to metropolitan and regional journals.
Recent studies of world and colonial reading and print culture have used the figure of the map to examine book culture. Katherine Bode points out that such usages reflect the wide scope of contemporary studies and, she argues, the importance of quantative perspective—drawing on the distance overview studies of such critics as Franco Moretti, which purport to “map” the field.8 They also stress the obvious, but sometimes sidelined, fact that reading and books, until very recently, have been heavily impacted by geography, not just language barriers but these limitations of transport and distance, time, space, and cost. Even in the brave new digital world, legal and trade barriers governed by states shape and limit reading culture.
The accounts and mapping of a cross-section of localized fiction and readers emphasize some of the flaws in the neater pictures of colonial trade and reading history laid out until these more recent nuanced studies.9 Close examination of the reading and travels of men and women at the class margins suggests that class divisions among readers were fluid, and that readerships intersected and overlapped, particularly in terms of “high,” “middle,” and “low” culture. Various recent studies have uncovered that “gendered” and even “raced” reading was not as segregated as has been mapped (or not mapped) previously, and that reading was mobilized for political and strategic purposes.10 Colonial reading can be explored by tracing the movement of books through libraries, as Lydia Wevers does so meticulously for one New Zealand farm library in Reading on the Farm and Tim Dolin does first for one library and then for a set in the Australian Common Reader project, or through digital analysis of publication records and data, or through the life of individual books, such as Paul Eggert’s tracking of Henry Lawson’s iconic 1896 volume While the Billy Boils.11
Early Colonial Reading and Access to Literature
Colonial reading practices were imported to Australia along with the print culture: the writing habits and, initially, the material books, journals, newspapers, and other texts that came with the settler invader culture.12 Books and journals were a valuable commodity in the very earliest years of the colonies.13 Elizabeth Webby has examined the circulation of books and imported and local reading matter in the early colonies, via book auctions, early booksellers, and the setting up of public subscription libraries.14 Private libraries were sold when immigrants died, fell on hard times, or returned “home” to Britain. The main settlements, Sydney, Hobart, then Melbourne, the Swan River Colony (which became Perth), Adelaide, and the interior towns that gradually developed along main waterways and trade routes or sites of major resources quickly saw not only imported private libraries, but also the establishment of private lending libraries, and public sellers of books and stationery, some of whom, like Robertson’s, also set up as lending libraries.15 There appears to have been no bookseller in Western Australia until the 1850s, so readers were reliant on sales of libraries (as Webby points out), private or public lending, or direct import of the sort advertised by Smith, Elder, and Co. in the Western Australian and other newspapers in New South Wales and South Australia:
Their Extensive connexion and matured arrangements enable them to execute orders of every description on the most advantageous terms and with the utmost possible dispatch. The rapid and regular means of transit now afforded by steam communication with the Australian Colonies, offers an inducement to residents in those countries to transmit their orders direct to London for execution; thus obtaining the advantage of the best and largest market, in place of selecting from the limited and sometimes inferior supplies of goods consigned to foreign countries. . . . S. E. & Co. are accustomed, when desired, to select new Works for their Constituents to an annual or half-yearly amount, and are guided in their selection by a desire to adhere as strictly as possible to the instructions they receive as to the description of Books required.16
In this Perth instance, as was usual, the advertisement appeared alongside advertisements from grocers, haberdashers, and wine sellers listing the latest new offerings from named shipping arrivals, with the effect of locating books and periodicals as just more of the same imported commodities, while also trying to separate them as something requiring discerning selection (perhaps beyond the colonial recipient), and a more direct consumer connection to the source.
The political nature of new settlements, the local needs of the settlers, and the skills and entrepreneurial desires of the settlers also meant that newspapers were quickly established in each colony. Elizabeth Morrison, in her study of early newspapers in New South Wales (then Victoria post-separation), outlines the process as one involving “settlement that brought the press into existence, the technological developments that governed its mode of operation, and the changing political structures and groupings wherein the press both expressed and exercised degrees of power.”17 In each state white settlement was quickly followed by the establishment of local press.18 Newspapers and literary periodicals were founded in the new settlements, as capital ventures, like others, because of the skills of the proprietors, but also intending to influence national character and reading, as in the case of James Ross’s Van Diemen’s Land Monthly Magazine, an instrument of Ross’s belief that literature was central to the establishment of a national character.19 Tim Dolin questions whether settler colonial readers were marginalized by their limited access to texts, or were rather “advance troops of the dominant metropolitan culture.”20 A similar angle on this use of text to invoke national identity—imagined communities in Benedict Anderson’s sense—is Penny van Toorn’s outline of the introduction, or imposition, of literacy and letters into Australian indigenous communities.21 Literacy and reading were perceived as a good by the white settlers, giving access to Christian scriptures, among other things, but, although Aboriginal peoples found ways to adapt reading and writing to their own purposes, the enforcement of reading could be just another technology of colonial disenfranchisement.22 Similarly, Lynne Kelly has recently pointed out the extent to which preliterate societies such as those existing in Australia possessed complex knowledge systems disrupted by the introduction of print culture (among other more obvious things).23
Booksellers, Publishers, and Stationers
Immigrant proprietors and disseminators of reading matter had motives more mixed than James Ross’s national impulses. Early settler and indefatigable self-made entrepreneur John Pascoe Fawkner, among his other industries and activities, started newspapers in both Hobart (Launceston Advertiser, 1828) and Melbourne (Port Phillip Patriot and Melbourne Advertiser, 1838, 1839), as well as setting up as a bookseller and stationer in Melbourne and lending out volumes from his private library.24 Tegg booksellers in Hobart was purchased by the Walch family in 1846 and set up as a bookseller and publisher of the longstanding Walch’s Tasmanian Almanac or Red Book.25 Tegg was praised for “selling books at London prices,” which stresses the ways in which he made access to the imperial center feasible and affordable, but as Katherine Bode points out, the two magazines he published in Hobart also included and disseminated local writers.26 At the same time, state-government libraries were also established—parliamentary libraries in each colony (which were not generally publicly accessible) and subscription libraries, both private and public, such as the Mechanics Institute (which became the Athenaeum) in Melbourne, established in 1839, and the Hobart Mechanics Institute (1827). Mechanics Institutes were established throughout Australia in urban centers and country towns, and then public libraries such as the Melbourne Public Library (1856), now the Melbourne State Library, and Sydney Free Public Library (1869), which was established by the New South Wales state government through the purchase of a preexisting subscription library.27 South Australia had an early system of subscription libraries and a coordinated system of Mechanics Institutes.28 Some libraries were less public than others, as John Levett points out regarding the controversial Tasmanian Public Library and Reading Rooms, which was charged in an 1849 newspaper article with the “exclusion of the respectable, though humble, portion of the community.”29 There were variations, such as free reading rooms, sometimes attached to churches or temperance halls like the one in Yea, northeast Victoria (1885).30
Settlers brought books with them, for shipboard reading, but more specifically as a resource for settlement. Bill Bell has outlined the kinds of ready-made libraries marketed to emigrants, from the Religious Tract Society “seamen’s” library, to the Chamber’s Portable Library, “amusing and instructive reading, well adapted for Private Families, Emigrants, Ships’ Libraries, & c.”31 When the Australian novelist Ada Cambridge was making farewells before immigrating to Australia with her clergyman husband in the 1870s, she describes the actions of a friend who “rushed to the bookstall that had already supplied us with all its papers, bought a complete set of Dickens’ novels, and tumbled them in armfuls upon the carriage seat beside us, just as the train was moving off.”32 As Kylie Mirmohamadi and I suggest, Dickens’s work here seems to represent a kind of bulwark of Englishness against the perils ahead. Much of the early reading could be divided into these categories of useful emigrant information, religious books (including nearly always a Bible), and comforting “British” entertainment such as familiar poetry and popular writers like Charles Dickens. Books were expensive to transport, so only the most essential could come with the poorer passengers, including the family Bible, which itself often became a narrative of life (and death) in the colonies as its columns filled with recordings of births, deaths, and marriages. As with other parts of the transport of reading to the colonies, this costly passage was fraught with peril for books. An outraged report in the Launceston, Tasmania, Cornwall Chronicle in 1840 claimed that during the rescue of the wreck of the Ocean Queen, “a boat’s crew of the Tamar, took an opportunity, when the crew of the Ocean Queen were engaged in conveying the passengers’ luggage on shore from the wreck, to ransack her cabins, and to plunder them of a quantity of property. Parcels addressed to various parties at Launceston, books, linen, clothes, and other description of property were carried away.”33
Colonial Expansion of Reading and Literacy
Katherine Bode’s account of Australian publishing in Reading by Numbers suggests that the industry was more localized than has been previously acknowledged. She argues throughout for a robust industry of local publishing of fiction: volume publishing as well as extensively underrepresented serialization of locally produced short and long fiction.34 This source for local publishing of poetry has been more acknowledged, if underrated.
As Morrison, Bode, and others have pointed out, the enthusiasm for imported literature was matched by the burgeoning of the local product.35 Serial publication of fiction, poetry, and commentary in the newspapers established in each colony meant that the uneven wait times for serial fiction from the imperial center were countered by more reliable home-grown serial fiction and related publishing, at least for metropolitan readers. Elizabeth Webby, in her tracing of the reading of British literature and the early popularity of Dickens, in the 1830s, notes intermissions in serialization, which may well be due to lapses in regular ship deliveries, as when The Posthumous Papers of The Pickwick Club appeared not in a monthly sequence, but irregularly, and it was worth a bookseller’s while to advertise the ultimate arrival of the full bound volumes in April 1838, on the ship the Kinnear, in more than one newspaper.36
By the second half of the century, public libraries and/or Mechanics Institutes were established in most capitals and in many regional areas, serving a perceived need for improving and practical literature, and an actual desire for fiction and poetry.37 Various commentators have argued for a comparatively high rate of literacy in the Australian colonies as compared to Britain, and a corresponding desire for and circulation of reading materials.38 In the wake of the gold boom, Melbourne arguably became the reading capital of Australia until late in the century, by measure of book sales and literary culture generally, including the grand conception around the classical public library buildings (which initially also included the gallery and museum). These were established from 1856 and progressively expanded into the 20th century, when a domed reading room, reminiscent of the British Library’s, was completed in 1913.39
As noted, the alignment of supply of reading matter around transport was initially governed by the arrival of the mail boats with fresh supplies for the local booksellers, including the “latest” journals—if a couple of months behind British releases—and the latest monthly parts of ongoing serials. Various accounts register the impact of the delayed arrival of hotly anticipated parts across different colonies. Mary Morton Allport’s 1852–1853 record of the family’s life in Hobart mentions the nightly readings of Bleak House in parts, as they arrive by boat, and the interruptions, “We finished the twelfth number of ‘Bleak House’ last night and have no more to go on with.”40 In July 1853, then, they were reading the number released in Britain in February of that year. Another number arrived in Hobart by August 18. The colonial experience of monthly releases reiterates the periodic excitement felt on the first of the month in Britain, but without the reliability. There was the additional complexity that the mail boats, which were eventually close to monthly in their arrivals, carried not just monthly parts but all the new arrivals—books, journals, and of course mail. The frenzy of mail day—the desire for new text and exchange of news and mail—was depicted in colonial image and text.41 Matthew Rubery has argued that the experience of duration enforced by encountering fiction through reading monthly parts influenced the experience of narrative and the understanding of time.42 In their more extended study, Linda Hughes and Michael Lund outline the way the serial’s enforced installments and measured progress might both reflect and reinforce Victorian understandings of progress as gradual development over extended time.43 In colonial societies, this relationship between reading practice and ideology adhered, despite complaints and fears about the short-term greed of the populace, which countered the kind of investment in long returns—the “perseverance and delay of gratification necessary for middle class economic success”—also identified as a feature common to middle-class Victorian British readers.44 The steady influence and confirmation of the serial and orderly publication schedules were affected by a less reliable and less sequential consumption of narratives and texts from Britain brought about by the vagaries of shipping schedules, weather delays, and wrecks in passage to the Australian and New Zealand colonies, and for the local and British product by overland distances and transport challenges within and between the colonies.45 Order and reliability, the sequential development of the serial, was disrupted and brought into question for colonial reader in their daily lives and their unreliable reading in the first generations of the Australian colonies.
The colonial model was not just dependent on an imperial center, which delivered print culture to a passive audience. As noted, partly as a result of consumer need in the face of delays, and partly because consumer culture was circulating in the complex network with the products, Australians rapidly began to produce their own newspapers, carrying local content as well as international, and versions of foreign literature.46 The southern colonies like the other Anglo colonies developed a print culture that drew on but neither duplicated nor entirely depended on the imperial center, and in its turn contributed back into the complex network of imperial culture and print culture.47 Mobility across the empire and within and between colonies affected the demand for poems and stories, the types and subjects of narratives, and the way stories were told and packaged. As the century progressed the lucrative literary market that Australia presented for the empire, in particular, meant that a percentage of local volume production was published externally, particularly in Britain, and imported back into the colony; the details of both volume and journal publication were complex.48 According to Bode, in her highly quantitative study of fiction publication, from the 1860s to the 1880s, half of the published Australian novels were serialized, and most of those in Australian publications. The Australian Journal and the set of weekly magazines that accompanied major daily newspapers accounted for the majority of these publications. Bode cites circulation figures of 12,000 for the monthly Australian Journal (1870), 18,000 for the weekly Australasian (1888), and 80,000 for the Melbourne daily, the Age.49 Bode argues that the surge in fiction serialization across the 1860s and 1870s was aided by but not dependent upon technology; rather, she seems to align it to regionality (British regional, but not metropolitan, fictional serialization arose at the same time) and the surge in population. Although she sees local Australian serial fiction as, broadly, expressing the development of incipient imagined communities, she identifies them not as national but as “metropolitan, regional and colonial,” and she aligns these formations to the vagaries of transport—noting “regional territorialism exhibited by newspaper proprietors” and the significance of the regional newspaper distribution battles, where rail services were established to serve political ends, such as ensuring, for instance, that the first metropolitan news to reach the Riverina came from Sydney, not Melbourne.50 Weekly companions to the newspapers, containing fiction, she argues, were similarly driven by transportation imperatives—“colonial distances and lack of distribution infrastructure,” although she sees the “Australian” contents of local scenes and now stereotyped characters of bushrangers and convicts as locally interpreted, rather than forging a national identity.51
So far, I have been considering what Tim Dolin refers to as “what was available to read” rather than any definitive proof of what was read.52 Dolin, like Bode, has moved to Moretti’s “distant reading”—borrowing records in his case, publication data in hers—to establish a more comprehensive understanding of reading patterns. Bode’s scientific analysis of what was really available and circulating, Dolin’s study, and associated work by scholars such as Julieanne Lamond, on combinations of reading, and Tony Ballantyne on literary culture in place, have uncovered new ways of understanding reader communities.53
Later 19th-Century Reading: Mapping the City
The early advertisement from Smith, Elder and Co. enticed readers to order their reading from the pure imperial source. Much of the advertising contemporary with it, and later, was for local production and distribution, and mapped a very different understanding of reading in the colony. By the late part of the 19th century, the Australian market for books was substantial. Katherine Bode identifies a decline in Australian publishing of Australian novels and an upturn of British publication, alongside the rise of the “cheap colonial editions,” which constituted an increasing part of British book exports to Australia.54 Bode and Paul Eggert suggest that the size and possibilities of the local market, with its relative wealth and appetite for cheap fiction, had an impact on British publishing patterns and were part of the demise of the three-volume novel, which was too expensive, too heavy to export, and overly tailored to the British, Mudie-style circulation library.55 Australian booksellers mostly benefited from the influx of cheap books, which, as further evidence of the impact of transport systems on reading in the colonies, was also enabled by increasingly reliable international transportation. The introduction of the Maury charts in the late 1850s improved sailing times between England and Australia. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 meant a massive increase in more reliable steamer trade via this route.56 Many Australian publishers had also—or primarily—been stationers and booksellers, and when the shift in publishing began to move to Britain in the last decades of the century, they just adapted their commercial activities to concentrate on sales rather than publishing.
A case in point is Mullen’s booksellers, once identified as the “Melbourne Mudie’s.” Samuel Mullen had commenced as an assistant at Robertson’s booksellers in Melbourne and had, after a rather ill-fated trip to London, returned to set up his bookshop and stationers in imitation of Mudie’s.57 He did publish histories, travel books, and poetry in the 1860s and 1870s.58 By the 1890s the store had become Melville, Mullen and Slade. Its New Tramway Map of Melbourne and Suburbs was available across the latter half of the century as the bookseller went through various configurations. This publication depicts the city of Melbourne as a colorful bullseye, centered on the post office at the corner of Bourke and Elizabeth Street, and radiating out in concentric circles from there, even into Port Phillip Bay. The legend in most versions is also in the bay, as if floating there—distinguishing between horse trams (dotted line) and the newer cable trams (solid line), miles and quarter-mile markers. The map, as an advertising promotion for its makers, features a ribbon of advertising for books above and below the illustrated map. Most prominent, in terms of print size, is the word Novels at the top of the page, just above the suburb of Coburg. This square offers, in smaller print, “A Large Selection of the Latest novels, in Special Cheap COLONIAL LIBRARY EDITIONS, always on view. / NEW SUPPLIES BY EVERY MAIL.” To the right of this block is a more modest script header for Mullen’s Select Library:
This Library was designed to promote the Circulation of the Best Literature of the Day, and is conducted on the system which prevails at Mudie’s and other prominent Libraries in Great Britain. Selections of the Newest Books are made immediately on their appearance in London, and are despatched to Melbourne by first Mail Steamer. No Books of real merit are omitted from these selections.
Subscriptions started at one guinea.59 At the very bottom of the map, one of the guides that enabled the less selective reader to choose was also advertised: Melville, Mullen and Slade’s “Literary Circular and BOOK LIST” (Mullen’s Monthly Circular), which promised the “latest literary intelligence of the day, also particulars of the best New Books in the various departments of literature.” In this block, although in quite small print, is included Mullen’s address—262 & 264 Collins Street, an almost unnecessary addition for an avidly reading cosmopolitan colonial city.60 Competitor Melbourne book and stationery seller E. W. Cole had a similar tramways map in circulation at the same time. Although not surrounded by a virtual streetscape of textual markets as the Melville, Mullen and Slade’s map is, the Cole map is a similarly complicated spiderweb, and like the Melville, Mullen and Slade map, Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay is filled with the publisher/store’s logo.61
Mullen’s tram guide and reading guide were two aspects of the same phenomenon, seeking to elucidate, map, and trace the semi-familiar territory of city and reading (literally on the same page in the case of the Melville, Mullen and Slade Tramway map).62 Much has been made of railway reading and the transformations that railway time and space made to the Victorian mind.63 The Perth Inquirer and Commercial News in 1854, when the city barely had a book trade, reprinted a long article from the British Saturday Review about railway booksellers, particularly W. H. Smith, reminding local readers of their lack of access to both that level of convenient transportation and the transportation of cheap literature at every stop.64 Tina Young Choi has recently traced the importance of the Railway Guide to (British) travelers’ experience of place, and their ability to assemble their own narrative, to make sense of their journey and their space. Choi examines the interplay between linear narrative and “cartographic legibility.”65 The linear nature of narrative in the twists and repetitions of the long 19th-century novel might be questioned, perhaps, but the implications of the ubiquity of the bookstore and library in the metropolis and the colonies for the kinds of journeys involved in accessing and exchanging the printed word, and the kinds of reading experiences accessed, are suggestive. Certainly they better match the circling maps and bullseye of Mullen’s Tramway map, focusing any journey to circulate back toward a store “boldly planted at the heart of the Collins Street ‘Block,’ a retail location without peer.”66
In the Australian context, as in Britain, railways and transport, as well as being vital to the circulation of reading and text, entered literature and fiction, whether shaping narrative or producing plot: in The Newest Woman, in the fiction of Ada Cambridge, as well as in her autobiography with its shower of railway Dickens, in the work of Mary Fortune, in sensational fiction such as The Tramway Tragedy, and in novels such as the sensational Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1886) by Fergus Hume, which was somewhat more retrospective in transport terms.67 This latter Australian blockbuster was of course a classic railway novel.68
Booming Melbourne was the largest city in Australia from the 1860s to the late 1890s, and it dominated the British colonial book import market.69 It was, for a brief period, the primary colonial book capital and conduit. The book and stationery shops were often one and the same so that reading the city and writing the city, reading matter and writing materials, had the same source, as in Melville, Mullen and Slade’s advertisement, where the margins of the Tramways map were anchored by blocks on the bottom left- and right-hand corners for the “EDUCATIONAL DEPARTMENT” and the “STATIONERY DEPARTMENT.” This was also the case with George Robertson’s “Bookseller’s Publishers and Manufacturing Stationers” around the corner on Little Collins Street in the 1890s, and with the rather less genteel Cole’s Book Arcade on Bourke Street East. Likewise, around the country, stores such as B. Stein and Co. in Perth combined bookseller, stationer, and “private lending library” across the 1880s. The NSW Bookstall Company combined bookselling with sales of stationery, publishing, and—with its many railway bookstalls—proximity to transport.
These spaces and the streets around them were traversed by some of the most enthusiastic and omnivorous readers of the colonial world. In noting the generic and textual complexity of the context for the production of Marcus Clark’s 1874–1875 Melbourne-authored “classic” His Natural Life, Andrew McCann highlights the ways in which literary figures as well as their products came from and circulated within not just a range of cognate high-art cultural products but also textual and environmental soup. This obvious fact is easily erased in studies that look only for broad trends, or continue to reify the “classic.” McCann notes the confluence of forces that might make such a text a classic.70 This is the complexity of environment and readers who are not so easily mapped by remnant textual traces and conversations.
Many studies, including a number of more recent detailed accounts, have examined the interchanges and movements of the self-consciously literary and “highbrow,” and mostly masculinist, cliques in these spaces that traverse Melbourne, Sydney, London, New Zealand, and beyond.71 In Wild Bleak Bohemia Michael Wilding tracks literary exchanges that rely on publishing networks and either men-only (the Yorick Club), or male-dominated, literary clubs, as well as predominantly masculine spaces like bars, newspaper offices, and racetracks.72 Ken Stewart, like McCann in his earlier work, traces wider bohemian networks that take in the overlapping reading and dissemination tracks of literary and popular commodity fiction.73 These circulations of masculine cultural capital are easier to trace than the intersecting feminine networks of reading, movement, consumption, and critique, however much they may have overlapped and intermingled at the time, or been subject to external scrutiny.74
The macro world of global, national, and regional transport networks, and urban lines of influence and connection, sustained the book and literary trade and enabled the mobility and dissemination of books, magazines, and journals, and of tastes and fashions in reading. But colonial reading was carried out in micro and personal ways also—the individuals waiting on stations, taking out specific library subscriptions, or being swayed by reviews, or the catalogues of booksellers. Surviving diaries and letters of men and women in late-19th-century Australia describe a constant traversal and mapping through the increasingly narrated fictional and nonfictional spaces of the city. If we follow for a moment the movements and reading of a middle-aged, middle-class female reader in the Australian centennial year—when Great Exhibitions celebrated the “discovery” of Australia—it may be possible to get a taste of the minute layers of greater trends.75 In one week, from Wednesday, March 28, 1888, to April 4, Henrietta Jennings, a single woman, reader, and diarist living with her sisters in East St. Kilda on the edges of Melbourne recounted a typical series of days. On the 28th she went driving with her sister probably in a hired carriage or gig. On Thursday she was “Off to meet Mrs Currie [and] called at Mrs Bucklys & left my dress.” This was a journey to her dressmaker’s that may have been done by carriage, tram, or by train, which the sisters often used. Afterward, she “had a pleasant trip to Coburg & Woodlands.—got back at 1-30 went to the Hospital. saw Louisa at Mullens.”
This trip involves visiting and shopping, including a visit to Mullen’s the bookstore, for books, or stationery, or browsing, or to be seen.76 Here she meets her sister-in-law, who features in the diary as one of the other readers in the family. She also makes a charitable visit to the hospital. On Saturday the sisters have guests, and on Monday they walk out visiting, and apparently go skating: “Monday 2nd Walked over to see Blanche had a pleasant chat & went with her & Phoebe to the skating rink went home in a carriage with 17 in it.” There were a number of rollerskating rinks in Melbourne at the time, including the Exhibition skating rink in Brunswick, and another rink in St. Kilda.
This “carriage” was most likely a horse-drawn omnibus.77 By Tuesday Henrietta packs, sends off her boxes for a trip to a forthcoming wedding, goes to town to choose the present, and then on Thursday is “off to town got to Spencer St. too soon[,] claimed my luggage & waited till the Russells appeared. Had a pleasant journey lunched at Geelong. drove to Golf Hill & had some tea.” In other words, she caught the train to Geelong (and probably a suburban train to Spencer Street Railway Station in order to catch the Geelong train) and arrived there with the Russells, after which she drove about 25 miles farther to their station, Golf Hill.
This is a not an unusual sample of Henrietta’s weekly movements, which circulated around philanthropic commitments, shopping, and visiting friends and family. Henrietta was a regular reader, and visits to Mullen’s as well as the less sophisticated Coles Book Arcade are mentioned a number of times in her diary. Kylie Mirmohamadi has pointed out the ways in which “gendered literacy in Colonial Melbourne” was mapped onto and in the city, “locating” the reader in terms of class as well as gender.78 Mirmohamadi traces the ways in which frequenting Mullen’s marked the increased freedom and spectacle of women in the marketplace, and the anxieties and exhilaration around that. She identifies that in a novel like Ada Cambridge’s The Three Miss Kings (1891), three sisters of initially uncertain gentility map their lives among the public library, Mullen’s, and the International Exhibition, ultimately establishing gentility, class status, and their places in the romance plot.79 Henrietta Jennings and her family were also frequent visitors to the Exhibition, particularly the classed zones of the galleries and concert halls, genteel tastes that align with some of her reading. As Mirmohamadi makes clear, place and movement through space are central to the interpretation of readerships, and also to the ways in which reading is shaped by the local texts.
Henrietta Jennings’s peripatetic movements also function as a model and metaphor for her reading practices and encounters, and those of her peers—moments of solo contemplation and self-directed reading are quickly followed by experiences of mass consumption and cooperative experience, where everyone shares the same ride/read with fellow travelers (Anderson’s “imagined community”).80 Railway reading—acquired at railway bookstalls and/or read on the railways—was by this period, finally, as available to the urban and suburban colonial traveler as to the British at home, perhaps more so if one accepts the statistics about higher literacy in the Australian colonies.81 Novels and newspapers were read on the railways, pamphlets and poetry perhaps on the shakier tramways, sermons and tracts and religious biography were for solitary reading at home or in the rests on private walks. In fact, as with public transport, reading was not segmented, and novels, poetry, and biography were also part of regular public family and group reading. Novels and poetry were also frequently the subject of popular public readings and entertainments around Australia, as they were in other colonies.82
The traversal of space, and fiction, by a middle-class spinster like Henrietta Jennings would have been guided and shaped by the arrivals of the monthly mail ships with their regular cargo of books, monthly parts, and British and international newspapers, as well as letters, news, and nontextual cargo.83 Internally, transport and public transport, trains and tramways, and their maps and schedules would have inflected Henrietta’s access and reading. She and her sisters frequented city bookshops and libraries, using the train and tram-car regularly, as well as the omnibus. They traveled around Victoria and interstate by steamer, as well as walking impressive distances, and they regularly took private carriages, and sometimes cabs, as noted. Henrietta’s narrative maps of her life indicate an eclectic yet guided pattern of lifelong reading, scattered across genres but directed by available schedules, maps, and channels. She was constrained and enabled by transport, availability, and trends, by the maps and guides to reading and to access. Specifically, it is clear that her reading was influenced and may have been directed by reading guides like the ones put out in Melbourne by the primary booksellers’ outlets. Both Mullen’s and Robertson’s published reading guides as part of their array of advertising opportunities and 19th-century clickbait. George Robertson & Co. published the Monthly Book Circular from 1861 to 1891.84 Rosemary van Arsdel identifies Robertson’s circular as directed at “booksellers and bookbuyers” in what she sees as a highly specialized and fragmented Victorian reviewing market, although “bookbuyers,” like her category “women,” perhaps leaves a rather broad scope compared to categories like “unionists” and “spiritualist.”85 Henrietta Jennings’s acquisition of some books coincides with the likely time of reading the monthly book circular. For example, in 1889 her entry for February 22 reads, “Thursday Up to town. paid Craig’s bill got ‘John Wards.’” Margaret Deland’s John Ward, Preacher (1888) was reviewed in the Robertson’s circular dated March 1889, which was probably released in February of that year.86
The earlier homemade diary of a younger, poorer Melbourne resident, Joyce Sincock (1862), records much less autonomy and perambulating on her own part, and less up-to-date popular reading. However, it does indicate similarly concerted and omnivorous reading of everything available within the circle of household travels and reach. In this case, everything Sincock’s father brought into the house from his travels into Melbourne from their home in Prahran—the Argus newspaper, religious flavored fiction, memoirs evidently obtained from an unspecified subscription library, Picturesque Sketches of London, religious tracts, and odd numbers of Macmillan’s Magazine. Rather than the ideal of serial reading as a progressive development and investment over time—whether a sequence of monthly parts, or a sequence of a journal that makes sense of the modes and register of the writing and presentation—Sincock’s reading is symptomatic of colonial disjuncture. She reads one volume from a series, parts of the whole, and has no time to finish a volume. Library records, such as the Melbourne Athenaeum membership lists and those from the Evandale Library in Tasmania, indicate that even in reading families the father was often the sole listed library member, and possibly for many years the selector of reading matter for the family as a whole.87
Henrietta Jennings, an older single woman living in Melbourne with her sisters, reveals a great shift in access to print culture, epitomizing the mobile modern individual, freed by technology and the reconceptualization of space to move around town, around Victoria, Australia, and the world. Her diary for 1888 onward and that of her sister Louisa for the same period appear to have been saved—by the sisters or the family—exactly on account of the cosmopolitan contents of these volumes. Their excursions to Britain, recorded in the diaries, and the Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition of 1888, when the world and its technology came to Melbourne (and they visited it regularly), gave the diaries sufficient cultural capital. As noted, a few typical days of Henrietta’s diary indicate the extent of her utilization of, and reliance on, the webs of transport and text in and around colonial Melbourne.
Reading Fictions of Transport
Modern transport was the subject and driver of fiction in the colonies as it was in Britain and, in similar ways, a figure of modernity, of industrial disruptions of time and space, and of monstrous industrial power. Peter Bailey comments on the sexualized power of the train in English literature: “Up front it flaunts a brazen virility. . . . In conquering the landscape, the train raised fears of sexual as well as environmental despoliation [sic].”88 In Australian popular pulp fiction of the end of the century, modern transport features as almost diabolical in its disruptive possibilities (as is the fiction itself). This is certainly reiterated in Millie Finkelstein’s Newest Woman, in which in a bizarre sequence the “bushrangeress,” Kate Keely, (whose name deliberately invokes the famous bushranger Ned Kelly and his sister Kate) in melodramatic fashion crashes the steam train she has stolen. Having been sentenced to death, she escapes from the Old Melbourne Gaol and takes a more or less geographically accurate route down “Franklyn-street” (now Franklin Street) to Spencer Street Railway station (now Southern Cross Railway Station). The shunting steam train (not one of the long-distance electric trains mentioned earlier in the novel) is called “The Terror,” and once she causes it to move forward she finds she cannot stop it: “The monster dashes madly on breaking through gate after gate, the crashing and smashing rousing the affrighted gate-keepers from their slumbers, and bringing them out to see what was the matter, only to find the runaway turning a bend in the line further on.”89 This vision of excess and movement continues for some passages with the runaway train “crashing and dashing through station after station” until finally opposing, and textual, technology is used both to warn the potential victims and to derail its onslaught.90
The telegraph is used to warn unnamed powers to turn the train off onto a siding to avoid a “down excursion train” packed with passengers.91 The crash, with the bushranger “kneeling on the engine” praying, has the train represented as both monster and machine: “a terrific snort . . . a terrible crash! a roar! a shower of splinters, a fearful hissing of steam,” resulting in a “mangled body.”92 The engine, as in much fiction of the period, is here a combination of masculine animal and, incongruously, mechanistic industrial power, all beyond human and certainly feminine control.
The implication within this futuristic novel is that women, who have wrested power from the corrupt men in Australia, are not capable of handling modernity, technology, and masculinity, but this is not entirely followed through in that the “bushrangeress” is aberrant to, and was about to be hanged by, an otherwise regulated society, and even the steam train is depicted as a leftover of an earlier, backward age (the reader’s own), while “in the long distance journeys, the principal propelling power was electricity.”93 As railway fiction it invites comparison with the anxieties about uncontrolled reading (and indeed the repetition and excess in the climax of the text echo the advertising leaves that bind the paperback and exhort the reader to “READ! READ! READ!”). As Nicholas Daly comments of the railway, in relation to the rise of the railway novel, “the railway must be understood as more than a simple mode of transport: for the Victorians it stood as both agent and icon of the acceleration of the pace of everyday life; it annihilated an older experience of time and space, and made new demands on the sensorium of the traveler.”94
Rail and rail power became common features of late colonial novels, as they did in British fiction.95 Less common are accounts of the power and mystery of the tramway systems, although these were present in Britain and in the colonies. Henry Hoyte’s schlock Australian paperback novel The Tramway Tragedy (1887) takes its title from the ostensible suicide or murder by tram (in Sydney, although half the novel is set in Melbourne) that occurs near the opening of the story, preceded by the tragic tram journey of the apparent victim. The protagonist is, at the opening, traveling by two-story steam tram on the Glebe line. Stressed and despairing, the central character thinks to himself as he commutes home:
Why they call them trams I never can determine, unless it be to wink at the bye-laws (if there be any–I am not sure if there are, but still there ought to be) against trains running through the public streets; for trains they most decidedly are, with great ugly steam motors and long two storied carriages, with sliding doors that never will keep shut, or else decline to open again when you particularly want them to do so. Conductors who startle you with an abrupt “Tickets, please!” and bang the door without the slightest regard for one’s nerves, and low an infernal whistle at every street corner with a promptitude that sometimes makes it a matter of acrobatic ingenuity to either get in or out of the carriages in time.96
The use of death-by-tram as the central feature in this novel employs the same kind of language to dwell on the inexorable power of the vehicle that, disturbingly, was often the site in which the narrative itself was being consumed. The plot of the novel turns in part on this element—although the look-out man sees a body on the rails, it is impossible to stop the tram:
though Donald reversed the engine almost instantaneously, the warning came too late, and with a sickening scrunch, the heavy motor passed over the motionless figure on the line, and the modern Juggernaut had claimed another of its victims.97
The inclusion of the tram seems gratuitous—there is a possibility that Hoyte was trying to leverage from the enormous international popularity of Fergus Hume’s “transport” crime novel, Mystery of a Hansom Cab, set in Melbourne, and similarly obsessed less with progress than with circulation, although it is full of trains as well as cabs.
As in Finkelstein’s The Newest Woman, although the context is quite different, Hoyte’s novel dwells on the power and mechanical impersonality of the engine. The complicated and disconnected plot of this fiction rests, as does Finkelstein’s novel and Fergus Hume’s Mystery of a Hansom Cab and any number of other colonial fictions, on the dislocations of traditional family connection caused by the colonial diaspora—the dislocations caused by modern transport and its possibilities. In this complex plot, family misunderstandings have caused the move to Australia; concealed identities and mistaken identities abound. The body conveniently mangled by the power of the steam engine is not actually that of the supposed victim. Transportation, which has literally and metaphorically effected and facilitated these disjunctions, serves as a figure for the modernity that interrupts the narrative of patriarchal family and sequence, even while it is supposed to represent a smooth journey into the future.
The horrors and power of modern transport and its anonymity feature in the contemporary fiction of the colonies and the metropolis. In both cases the mechanization, mass production, and impersonalization of transportation are aligned with and a part of the exponential expansion of print culture that happens across the same period—mechanized, disseminated, and consumed by, with, and through the same medium, as well as aligned with the same anxiety and excitement around speed, disruption of boundaries, connection, and disconnection.98 A more significant regional tonality is in the extent to which the spatial complications and opportunities provided by and reflected in modern transport were taken advantage of in the colonies.
Peter Bailey suggests of the British context that “in the random aggregations of the new social spaces of modernity, alienation and its anonymities could be conditions of opportunity,” and this is certainly the effect of the industrial spaces of the colonies.99 The concept of British rail and transport, at least notionally, and despite many anxieties, was that it was bringing the country and even the world together, smoothing time, and making space and (in Choi’s terms) the narrative of space and movement smoother and more logical. The attraction of the map (the tramway map, the reading guide) is that it offers a controlling, organized overview, while the view of the city from the tram or train is at street level. On the street level, as the streetscape beyond flashes by, impressions can be fleeting, partial, chaotic and disorganized.
In the colonial context, the new forms of transport and their modernity were simultaneously present and delayed. They were novel in that they were literally introduced in fiction before in fact, and sometimes then encountered belatedly in the colonies, in new and different forms, and never seamlessly. As Hoyte’s introduction implies, the steam tram was both novel and generically challenged. It was a form not quite suited to the place, a train in the street called something else. Comparable disquiet confronted the literary forms that proliferated and failed in similar ways. Quite often transportation was introduced in forms that did not sync or connect in quite the same way. Settler society railways do not share some of the features of the urban railways in established cities like London, or even their insertion in North America. In a gold-boom modern city like Melbourne, the railway and the city transport system arose initially in rapid simultaneity, and the suburban spread, even more distinctly than in the old industrial cities, follows tram and rail routes.100 The seaside pleasure-resort overtones of tram-cars may have inflected Melbourne streets.101 This suggests order and coherence, but in fact rapidity also meant variety and instability. Most notably this was evident in the long-term failure or resistance in the Australian colonies to adopt a standardized “national” rail gauge that meant that literally as well as metaphorically the linear narratives that could be made out of colonial distance travel were interrupted and disrupted. Passengers had to change trains at the borders of the former colonies, well beyond Federation, whereas the mother country had sorted out a more seamless narrative of track by the early 1890s.102 Western Australia was not connected to the other colonies by “modern” rail until 1917. The novelty and diversity of Victorian technology are evident across the empire in its print culture. In the colonies this may exhibit sometimes more belatedly, and oddly—the steam tram, the Hansom cab—in reverse, in demonized ways, so that colonial narratives at the fin de siècle exhibit the anxiety of distance through even more violent disconnection.
Colonial reading culture was affected by its reliance on transport and the tension between local production and imperial cultural dominance over trade routes and publishing enclaves. Continuity and connectivity tend to be countered and even overcome in the colonies by economies and narratives of disarticulation, loss, gaps, and failure of connection. Elizabeth Webby discusses early concerns in the colony with missing volumes, stolen books, and not enough books.103 Later, with more plenitude, and local supplies, this frustration endured to some extent, with the supply from the imperial center meaning that monthly numbers might arrive out of order, omnivorous reading might not be sufficiently supplied where product was controlled by British publishers, and local publishers might not satisfy the same market. Ultimately local suppliers—at least of fiction—were increasingly pushed out or restrained. Different forms of transport in the colonies may be stretched to mirror or metaphorize different narratives and patterns of reading, but this can be overstretched. Placing Hoyte’s localized and destructive steam tram alongside Fergus Hume’s globalized but retrospective forms of transport highlights this. Hume famously made the narrative of Melbourne recognized, but undervalued his tale and therefore undersold his control of the story.104
Charlotte Mathieson has persuasively argued that the “transport revolution” in the Victorian era was reflected in its literature, and that one of its effects was to produce a “corporeality of mobility.” “If,” she avers, “mobility in the Victorian novel is about placing the nation, it is through the mobility of the body that this placing occurs.”105 By tracking representations of movement, distance, and transport systems in colonial Australian literature, and mapping the implications of the mobility of books and of reading bodies to, in, and among those colonies, one can see how colonial reading culture was affected by its reliance on transport and the tension between local production and imperial cultural dominance over trade routes and publishing enclaves. Colonial reading culture in Australia was diverse, volatile, vibrant, and ephemeral. The incidence of fictions of transport is notable because they highlight the uneasy balance between dependence on transport and traffic networks and the resistance to them. The novelty of this culture was in the way it rolled out different but familiar—uncanny—new fictions slightly displaced.106
Discussion of the Literature
Recent influential work on reading culture and print culture in 19th-century Australia has been heavily influenced by Franco Moretti’s “distant reading” both critically and productively. Katherine Bode’s Reading by Numbers: Recalibrating the Literary Field (2012) claims to offer “a form of ‘distant reading’ [based on data] that attends to the complex historical, social, geographical, political and economic factors involved in the rise of the novel and its relationship to reading communities” and gender.107 Bode uses the Austlit database, itself a valuable critical as well as primary source in this field, to produce a quantitative “map” or set of models of publishing patterns and readership that updates earlier readings, whether through dispute or denial. Perhaps her most important finding is to dispute through data the prevailing notion that colonial readers were not interested in Australian literature by demonstrating the extent of local serial publication and consumption.108 This counters earlier claims by critics such as Munro and Curtain in Paper Empires and Paul Eggert.109 Elizabeth Webby’s extensive work on colonial reading patterns sometimes makes a similar assertion, based on careful studies of various early reading communities.110 Earlier work on reading and print culture focused on the history of institutions—the cultural history of libraries and bookshops, such as George Nadel’s Australian Colonial Culture (1957)—and a number of volumes covered the history of the book in Australia and Australian print and reading culture: Borchardt and Kirsop’s edited volume The Book in Australia (1988), John Arnold and Martin Lyons’s A History of the Book in Australia: 1891–1945 (2001), Munro and Sheahan-Bright’s Paper Empires: A History of the Book in Australia 1946–2005 (2006), and small specialty volumes and articles covering these histories, such as Books, Libraries and Readers in Colonial Australia edited by Elizabeth Morrison and Michael Talbot (1985), and the extensive works of scholars such as Wallace Kirsop, Elizabeth Webby, and Tim Dolin. These works map the movement and accessibility of books and journals, and have been supplemented by another strand of critical work as well as online databases that concentrate on, and enable, analysis of individual- or group-reading practices. More recent work includes the series of volumes and critical work by Ken Gelder and Rachael Weaver, including anthologies of colonial gothic, adventure, and ghost stories, and The Colonial Journals and the Emergence of Literary Culture. One tension outlined by Bode and others is between the attempt to interpret reading practices and circulation using close textual analysis and extrapolation from individual or small-group examples and work that uses some level of “distant reading” based on larger data sets, such as the Austlit database, or the Australian Common Reader.111 The latter is a database of borrowing history that has enabled critical work that shifts some assumptions around 19th-century reading patterns. Important critical work has come from tracing the trajectory of individual authors, readers, and volumes, as evident in the Critical Texts series, and works such as Paul Eggert’s Biography of a Book: While the Billy Boils. The history of books and journals, print, print dissemination, and publishing is not quite a history of reading, and remains for critics nationally and internationally a more elusive subject.
Adkins, Keith. Reading in Colonial Australia: The Early Years of the Evandale Subscription Library. Melbourne: Ancora, 2010.Find this resource:
Ballantyne, Tony. Orientalism and Race: Aryanism in the British Empire. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.Find this resource:
Baragwanath, Pam. These Walls Speak Volumes: A History of Mechanics’ Institutes in Victoria. Camberwell: Ken James, 2015.Find this resource:
Benjamin, Walter. Imagined Communities. London: Verso, 1983.Find this resource:
Bode, Katherine, Reading by Numbers: Recalibrating the Literary Field. London: Anthem, 2012.Find this resource:
Bode, Katharine. “Thousands of Titles without Authors: Digitized Newspapers, Serial Fiction, and the Challenges of Anonymity.” Book History 19, no. 1 (2016): 284–316.Find this resource:
Borchardt, D. H., and Wallace Kirsop, eds. The Book in Australia: Essays towards a Cultural and Social History. Clayton: Australian Reference Publications in association with the Centre for Bibliographical and Textual Studies, Monash University, 1988.Find this resource:
Dolin, Tim. “First Steps toward a History of the Mid-Victorian Novel in Australia.” Australian Literary Studies 22, no. 3 (2006): 273–293.Find this resource:
Dolin, Tim, ed. Australian Common Reader. Database.
Eggert, Paul. “Australian Classics and the Price of Books: The Puzzle of the 1890s” JASAL 8, no. 2 (2008): 130–157.Find this resource:
Eggert, Paul. Biography of a Book: Henry Lawson’s While the Billy Boils. Sydney: Sydney University Press, 2013.Find this resource:
Feltes, N. N. Modes of Production of Victorian Novels. Chicago: University Chicago Press, 1986.Find this resource:
Fennessy, Kathleen M. A People Learning: Colonial Victorians and Their Public Museums, 1860–1880. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Press, 2007.Find this resource:
Freeman, Michael. Railways and the Victorian Imagination. New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 1999.Find this resource:
Gelder, Ken, and Rachael Weaver. The Colonial Journals and the Emergence of Australian Literary Culture. Crawley: University of Western Australia Publishing, 2014.Find this resource:
Isaacs, V., and R. Kirkpatrick. Two Hundred Years of Sydney Newspapers: A Short History. New South Wales: Rural Press, 2003.Find this resource:
Kellett, John R. The Impact of Railways on Victorian Cities. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1969.Find this resource:
Kirsop, Wallace. “Writing a History of Nineteenth-Century Commercial Circulating Libraries: Problems and Possibilities.” BSANZ Bulletin 27, no. 3–4 (2003): 71–82.Find this resource:
Lamond, Julieanne. “Communities of Readers: Australian Reading History and Library Loan Records.” In Republics of Letters: Literary Communities in Australia. Edited by Peter Kirkpatrick and Robert Dixon, 27–38. Sydney: Sydney University Press, 2012.Find this resource:
Lyons, Martyn, and John Arnold. eds. A History of the Book in Australia 1891–1945: A National Culture in a Colonised Market. St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2001.Find this resource:
Martin, Susan K., and Kylie Mirmohamadi. Sensational Melbourne: Reading, Sensation Fiction and Lady Audley’s Secret in the Victorian Metropolis. North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2011.Find this resource:
Mathieson, Charlotte. Mobility in the Victorian Novel: Placing the Nation. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.Find this resource:
McCann, Andrew. Marcus Clarke’s Bohemia: Literature and Modernity in Colonial Melbourne. Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 2004.Find this resource:
Mirmohamadi, Kylie. “Melbourne’s Sites of Reading: Putting The Colonial Woman Reader in Her Place.” History Australia 6, no. 2 (2009): 38.1–38.19.Find this resource:
Morrison, Elizabeth. Engines of Influence: Newspapers of Country Victoria 1840–1890. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2005.Find this resource:
Rubery, Matthew. “Bleak House in Real Time.” English Language Notes 46, no. 1 (2008): 113–118.Find this resource:
Slade, Leonard. “Melbourne’s Early Booksellers.” Victorian Historical Magazine 15, no. 3 (1935): 98–107.Find this resource:
Stewart, Ken. “The Colonial Literati in Sydney and Melbourne.” In Nellie Melba, Ginger Meggs and Friends: Essays in Australian Cultural History, edited by Susan Dermody, John Docker, and Drusilla Modjeska, 176–191. Malmesbury: Kibble, 1982.Find this resource:
Suarez, Michael F., and H. R. Woudhuysen, eds. The Book: A Global History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.Find this resource:
Sussex, Lucy. Blockbuster! Fergus Hume and The Mystery of a Hansom Cab. Melbourne: Text Publishing, 2015.Find this resource:
Webby, Elizabeth. “Colonial Writers and Readers.” In Cambridge Companion to Australian Literature. Edited by Elizabeth Webby, 50–73. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.Find this resource:
Webby, Elizabeth. “Reading in Colonial Australia: The 2011 John Alexander Ferguson Memorial Lecture.” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society 97, no. 2 (2012): 119–135.Find this resource:
Wilding, Michael. Wild Bleak Bohemia: Marcus Clarke, Adam Lindsay Gordon and Henry Kendall—a Documentary. North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2014.Find this resource:
(1.) Millie Finkelstein, The Newest Woman: The Destined Monarch of the World (Melbourne: Sportswoman, 1895), 2, 3, 98–107.
(2.) Geoffrey Blainey, The Tyranny of Distance: How Distance Shaped Australia’s History, rev. ed. (Sydney: Macmillan, 2001).
(3.) See recent analysis of the grand theory, its uses, and impact in, for example, Damian Veltri, “Epic and Identity: Reflections on Geoffrey Blainey’s The Tyranny of Distance,” Agora 49, no. 1 (2014): 50–56.
(4.) Blainey, The Tyranny of Distance, 40–70.
(5.) Elizabeth Webby, “English Literature in Early Australia: 1830–1839,” Southerly 36, no. 1 (1976): 79; and Commercial Journal and Advertiser (Sydney), January 19, 1839, 2.
(6.) Argus, February 21, 1874, 4, quoted in Kylie Mirmohamadi and Susan K. Martin, Colonial Dickens: What Australians Made of the World’s Favourite Writer (North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2012), 13; and Webby, “English Literature in Early Australia: 1830–1839,” 76.
(7.) Susan K. Martin, ‘“Flashed from Wire to Wire, through the Continents of the Old and New World: Trafficking in Imperial Information between Britain and Australia at the End of the Victorian Era,” in Victorian Traffic: Identity, Exchange, Performance, ed. Susan Thomas (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008), 70–83.
(8.) See, for example, Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History (New York: Verso, 2005); Priya Joshi, In Another Country: Colonialism, Culture, and the English Novel In India (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002); and Robert Darnton, discussed in Katherine Bode, Reading by Numbers: Recalibrating the Literary Field (New York: Anthem, 2012), 21.
(9.) This is not to downplay the distinctions and uniqueness between even neighbor colonies. See, for instance, J. E. Traue, “The Two Histories of the Book in New Zealand,” BSANZ Bulletin 25, no. 1–2 (2001): 8–16.
(10.) Tim Dolin, “First Steps toward a History of the Mid-Victorian Novel in Australia,” Australian Literary Studies 22, no. 3 (2006): 273–293; Julieanne Lamond, “Communities of Readers: Australian Reading History and Library Loan Records,” in Republics of Letters: Literary Communities in Australia, eds. Peter Kirkpatrick and Robert Dixon (Sydney: Sydney University Press, 2012), 27–38; Andrew McCann, Marcus Clarke’s Bohemia: Literature and Modernity in Colonial Melbourne (Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 2004); Ken Gelder and Rachael Weaver, The Colonial Journals and the Emergence of Australian Literary Culture (Crawley: University of Western Australia Publishing, 2014); Bode, Reading by Numbers; and Penny van Toorn, Writing Never Arrives Naked: Early Aboriginal Cultures of Writing in Australia (Canberra: Aboriginal Studies, 2007).
(11.) Lydia Wevers, Reading on the Farm: Victorian Fiction and the Colonial World (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2010); Dolin, “First Steps”; Australian Common Reader database; Bode, Reading by Numbers; and Paul Eggert, Biography of a Book: Henry Lawson’s While the Billy Boils (Sydney: Sydney University Press, 2013).
(12.) Martyn Lyons, “Reading Practices in Australia,” in A History of the Book in Australia 1891–1945: A National Culture in a Colonised Market, eds. Martyn Lyons and John Arnold (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2001), 335, 343.
(13.) Elizabeth Webby, “Australian Literature and the Reading Public in the Eighteen-Twenties,” Southerly 29, no. 1 (1969): 17–42; Webby, “English Literature in Early Australia: 1830–1839”; Elizabeth Webby, “Colonial Writers and Readers,” in Cambridge Companion to Australian Literature, ed. Elizabeth Webby (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 50–73; and Elizabeth Webby, “Reading in Colonial Australia: The 2011 John Alexander Ferguson Memorial Lecture,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society 97, no. 2 (2012): 121–123.
(14.) Elizabeth Webby, “English Literature in Early Australia: 1820–1829,” Southerly 27, no. 4 (1967): 266–285; Webby, “Australian Literature and the Reading Public”; Webby, “English Literature in Early Australia: 1830–1839,” 73–87; and Elizabeth Webby, “English Literature in Early Australia: 1840–1849,” Southerly 36, no. 3 (1976): 297–317.
(15.) Webby, “Reading in Colonial Australia,” 125–131; Keith Adkins, Reading in Colonial Australia: The Early Years of the Evandale Subscription Library (Melbourne: Ancora, 2010); Wallace Kirsop, “From Curry’s to Collins Street, or How a Dubliner Became the ‘Melbourne Mudie,’” in The Moving Market: Continuity and Change in the Book Trade, ed. Peter Isaac and Barry McKay (New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll, 2001), 83–92; and Wallace Kirsop, “Writing a History of Nineteenth-Century Commercial Circulating Libraries: Problems and Possibilities,” BSANZ Bulletin 27, no. 3–4 (2003): 71–82.
(16.) Perth Gazette and Independent Journal of Politics and News, March 10, 1854, 1.
(17.) Elizabeth Morrison, Engines of Influence: Newspapers of Country Victoria 1840–1890 (Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 2005), 6–7.
(18.) George H. Nadel, Australian Colonial Culture: Ideas, Men, and Institutions in Mid-Nineteenth Century Eastern Australia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957), 37–41.
(19.) Nadel, Australian Colonial Culture, 40–41.
(20.) Dolin, “First Steps,” 276.
(21.) See Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (New York: Verso, 1991).
(22.) van Toorn, Writing Never Arrives Naked, 33–38.
(23.) Lynne Kelly, Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015).
(25.) Neil Smith, “Walch, Charles Edward (1830–1915),” in Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 6, ed. Bede Nairn (Carlton, Australia: Melbourne University Press, 1976); and John Levett, “The Tasmanian Public Library in 1850: Its Members, Its Managers and Its Books,” in Books, Libraries and Readers in Colonial Australia, eds. Elizabeth Morrison and Michael Talbot (Clayton: Monash School of Librarianship, 1985), 11–21.
(26.) Webby, “English Literature in Early Australia: 1830–1839,” 83.
(27.) On the establishment of Mechanics Institutes, see Pam Baragwanath and Ken James, These Walls Speak Volumes: A History of Mechanics’ Institutes in Victoria (Camberwell: Ken James, 2015); and Nadel, Australian Colonial Culture; on public libraries, see “History of the Library,” State Library of New South Wales; and Margery C. Ramsey, “Concept of a Library: The Melbourne Public Library,” in Books, Libraries and Readers in Colonial Australia, 22–27.
(28.) Carl Bridge, “The South Australian Library Story” in Books, Libraries and Readers in Colonial Australia, 35–38.
(29.) Nadel, Australian Colonial Culture, 84–85, 128–129; and Hobarton Guardian, July 11, 1849, quoted in Levett, “The Tasmanian Public Library in 1850,” 14.
(30.) See the Yea Telegraph, November 5, 1885, 3, and November 19, 1885, 2.
(31.) Quoted in Bill Bell, “Bound for Australia: Shipboard Reading in the Nineteenth Century,” Journal of Australian Studies 25, no. 68 (2001): 6.
(32.) Ada Cambridge, Thirty Years in Australia (London: Methuen, 1903), 6–7.
(33.) “The Ocean Queen,” Cornwall Chronicle, August 15, 1840, 2; and The Early Australian Booksellers: The Australian Booksellers Association Memorial Book of Fellowship (Sydney: The Australian Booksellers Association, 1980).
(34.) Bode, Reading by Numbers, 29–31.
(35.) Morrison, Engines of Influence; and Bode, Reading by Numbers.
(36.) Webby, “English Literature in Early Australia: 1830–1839,” page 76, notes that Moffitt advertised in the Monitor on April 27, 1838, and a version of the same advertisement appeared in the Commercial Journal and Advertiser, April 25, 1838, 3.
(37.) On the establishment of public libraries and Mechanics Institutes, see David J. Jones, “Public Libraries: ‘Institutions of the Highest Educational Value,’” in A History of the Book in Australia 1891–1945, 157–175; and Baragwanath and James, These Walls Speak Volumes; on the desire for literature, see Webby, “Reading in Colonial Australia,” 126; and Kathleen M. Fennessy, A People Learning: Colonial Victorians and Their Public Museums, 1860–1880 (North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2007), 18.
(38.) Richard Nile and David Walker, “The Mystery of the Missing Bestseller,” in A History of the Book in Australia 1891–1945, 238; Webby, “Colonial Writers and Readers”; and Webby, “Reading in Colonial Australia.”
(39.) Richard Nile and David Walker, “The ‘Paternoster Row Machine’ and the Australian Book Trade,” in A History of the Book in Australia 1891–1945, 10; Martyn Lyons, “Britain’s Largest Export Market,” in A History of the Book in Australia 1891–1945, 19; Ken Stewart, “The Colonial Literati in Sydney and Melbourne,” in Nellie Melba, Ginger Meggs and Friends: Essays in Australian Cultural History, eds. Susan Dermody, John Docker, and Drusilla Modjeska (Malmesbury: Kibble, 1982), 183–185.
(40.) Mary Morton Allport, “Diary for Morton, 1852–1854,” State Library of Tasmania, transcript courtesy of Ian Henderson, July 15, 1853.
(41.) Mirmohamadi and Martin, Colonial Dickens, 16.
(42.) Matthew Rubery, “Bleak House in Real Time,” English Language Notes 46, no. 1 (2008): 113–118.
(43.) Linda Hughes and Michael Lund, The Victorian Serial (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1991), 6.
(44.) Hughes and Lund, The Victorian Serial, 6.
(45.) See for instance Richard D. Knowles, “Transport Shaping Space: Differential Collapse in Time-Space,” Journal of Transport Geography 14 (2006): 407–425, on differential time–space convergence and uneven collapse of the effects of distance in transport advances.
(46.) V. Isaacs and R. Kirkpatrick, Two Hundred Years of Sydney Newspapers: A Short History (New South Wales: Rural Press, 2003); on local and international content, see Bode, Reading by Numbers; and on foreign literature, see Webby, “Australian Literature and the Reading Public in the Eighteen-Twenties,” 17–42.
(47.) For example, Tony Ballantyne, “Placing Literary Culture: Books and Civic Culture in Milton,” Journal of New Zealand Literature: JNZL 28, no. 2, special issue: Cultures of Print in Colonial New Zealand (2010): 82–104.
(48.) Katherine Bode and Carol Hetherington, “Retrieving a World of Fiction: Building an Index—and an Archive—of Serialized Novels in Australian Newspapers, 1850–1914,” Script and Print 38, no. 4 (December 2014): 197–211; and Katharine Bode, “Thousands of Titles without Authors: Digitized Newspapers, Serial Fiction, and the Challenges of Anonymity,” Book History 19 (2016): 284–316; on external production, see Webby, “Colonial Writers and Readers”; Paul Eggert, “Australian Classics and the Price of Books: The Puzzle of the 1890s,” JASAL special issue (2008): 130–157; and Eggert, Biography of a Book.
(49.) Bode, Reading by Numbers, 35–39, figs. 2, 29.
(50.) Bode, Reading by Numbers, 39.
(51.) Bode, Reading by Numbers, 38–40.
(52.) Dolin, “First Steps,” 274.
(53.) Lamond, “Communities of Readers”; and Ballantyne, “Placing Literary Culture.”
(54.) Bode, Reading by Numbers, 47.
(55.) Bode, Reading by Numbers, 51; Paul Eggert, “Robbery under Arms: The Colonial Market, Imperial Publishers, and the Demise of the Three-Decker Novel,” Book History 6, no. 1 (2003): 127–146.
(56.) Knowles, “Transport Shaping Space,” 409–410.
(57.) M. Askew and B. Hubber, “The Colonial Reader Observed: Reading in Its Cultural Context,” in The Book in Australia: Essays towards a Cultural and Social History, eds. D.H. Borchardt and W. Kirsop, Historical Bibliography Monograph 16 (Melbourne: Australian Reference Publications in association with the Centre for Bibliographical and Textual Studies, Monash University, 1988), 110–137; and Leonard Slade, “Melbourne's Early Booksellers,” Victorian Historical Magazine 15, no. 3 (1935): 101.
(58.) For example, James Bonwick, John Batman: The Founder of Victoria (Melbourne: Samuel Mullen, 1867).
(60.) Mullen’s New Tramway Map of Melbourne and Suburbs (Melbourne: Melville & Mullen, 1891). Online versions of this map do not include the advertising material. Mirmohamadi and Martin, Colonial Dickens. Similar maps existed of Sydney, including McCarron and Bird’s Map of Sydney and Suburbs Showing Tramway Lines and Stopping Places 1907–1920 (Sydney: McCarron, Stewart, 1907–1920). National Library of Australia NLA MAP Daisy Bates Special Col. 66. Available online.
(61.) Edward William Cole, E. W. Cole’s Tramway Map of Melbourne and Suburbs (Melbourne: Sands & McDougall), 189–?.
(62.) Such travel and transport maps were available in the other colonies and occasionally use the bullseye to center the city, but I have not yet found one that used this advertising configuration.
(63.) Hughes and Lund, The Victorian Serial; Wolfgang Schivelbusch, The Railway Journey: The Industrialization of Time and Space (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986); Peter Bailey, “Adventures in Space: Victorian Railway Erotics, or Taking Alienation for a Ride,” Journal of Victorian Culture 9, no. 1 (2004): 1–21; Nicholas Daly, “Railway Novels: Sensation Fiction and the Modernization of the Senses,” English Literary History 66, no. 2 (1999): 461–487; and John R. Kellett, The Impact of Railways on Victorian Cities (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969).
(64.) Inquirer and Commercial News, November 4, 1857, 3.
(65.) Tina Young Choi, “The Railway Guide’s Experiments in Cartography: Narrative, Information, Advertising,” Victorian Studies 57, no. 2 (2015): 251–284, here 253.
(66.) Wallace Kirsop, “Writing a History of Nineteenth-Century Commercial Circulating Libraries,” BSANZ Bulletin 27, no. 3–4 (2003): 73–74.
(67.) John Mullan, “Railways in Victorian Fiction,” in British Library: Discovering Literature Romantics and Victorians, August 1, 2016; Michael Freeman, Railways and the Victorian Imagination (New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 1999); and Daniel Martin, “Railway Fatigue and the Coming-of-Age Narrative in Lady Audley’s Secret,” Victorian Review 34, no. 1 (2008): 131–153.
(68.) Lucy Sussex, Blockbuster! Fergus Hume and The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (Melbourne: Text Publishing, 2015).
(69.) Eggert, Biography of a Book, 190; and Mirmohamadi and Martin, Colonial Dickens.
(70.) Andrew McCann, Marcus Clarke’s Bohemia: Literature and Modernity in Colonial Melbourne (Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 2004), 143.
(71.) McCann, Marcus Clarke’s Bohemia; Michael Wilding, Wild Bleak Bohemia: Marcus Clarke, Adam Lindsay Gordon and Henry Kendall—A Documentary (North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2014); and Eggert, “Introduction,” in Biography of a Book, xx.
(72.) Wilding, Wild Bleak Bohemia, 216.
(73.) Stewart, “The Colonial Literati in Sydney and Melbourne.”
(74.) Mirmohamadi and Martin, Colonial Dickens; Leah Price, How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012); and Kate Flint, The Woman Reader, 1837–1914 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993); for external scrutiny in particular, see Kylie Mirmohamadi, “Melbourne’s Sites of Reading: Putting the Colonial Woman Reader in Her Place,” History Australia 6, no. 2 (2009): 38:9–38:18.
(75.) Henrietta Jennings, diary July 25, 1887–October 5, 1890, Jennings Family Diary and Papers, 1821–1906, State Library of Victoria MS 9432 Box 1792/6.
(76.) Mirmohamadi, “Melbourne’s Sites of Reading,” 38:9–38:14.
(77.) John Cranston, The Melbourne Cable Trams 1885–1940 (Melbourne: Craftsman, 1988).
(78.) Mirmohamadi, “Melbourne’s Sites of Reading.”
(79.) Kylie Mirmohamadi, ““The Great and Wonderful Labyrinth: Female Traffic through Melbourne Streets and Exhibition Spaces in Ada Cambridge’s The Three Miss Kings,” in Victorian Traffic: Identity, Exchange, Performance, ed. Sue Thomas (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 263–272.
(80.) Anderson, Imagined Communities.
(81.) John Sutherland, Victorian Fiction: Writers, Publishers, Readers (London: Palgrave, 1995); and Christa Ludlow, “The Reader Investigates: Images of Crime in the Colonial City,” in “Screening Cultural Studies,” special issue, Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media and Culture 7, no. 2 (1994): 254–268.
(82.) Mirmohamadi and Martin, Colonial Dickens; and Ballantyne, “Placing Literary Culture.”
(83.) Susan K. Martin, “Tracking Reading in Nineteenth-Century Melbourne Diaries,” in “Revealing the Reader,” special issue, Australian Humanities Review 56 (May 2014): 27–54; and Penny Russell, A Wish of Distinction: Colonial Gentility and Femininity (Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 1994), 24.
(85.) Rosemary T. VanArsdel, Periodicals of Queen Victoria’s Empire: An Exploration (London: Mansell, 1996), 44.
(86.) Although it is also possible that Jennings knew an author or editor of the circular, which would explain her cryptic occasional annotation, “read A. H. A. B [sic?] in Robertson’s.”
(87.) Athaeneum Minutes, 1844, Athenaeum Library Archives; and Keith Adkins, “For the Best of Reasons: The Evandale Subscription Library 1847–1861” (PhD diss., University of Tasmania, 2004), 185.
(88.) Bailey, “Adventures in Space,” 7.
(89.) Finkelstein, The Newest Woman, 57.
(90.) Finkelstein, The Newest Woman.
(91.) Finkelstein, The Newest Woman, 58.
(92.) Finkelstein, The Newest Woman, 58–59.
(93.) Finkelstein, The Newest Woman, 55.
(94.) Daly, “Railway Novels,” 463.
(95.) For example, in the fictions of Arthur Conan Doyle, such as “The Lost Special” (first published Strand Magazine in August 1898), in which a special train inexplicably disappears.
(96.) Henry Hoyte, The Tramway Tragedy (Melbourne: Kemp and Boyce, 1887), 9.
(97.) Hoyte, The Tramway Tragedy, 26.
(98.) For further discussion see, for example, Richard D. Altick, The English Common Reader: A Social History of the Mass Reading Public, 1800–1900 (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1998), 299–302.
(99.) Bailey, “Adventures in Space,” 13.
(100.) Cranston, The Melbourne Cable Trams, 8–16.
(101.) F. M. L. Thompson, The Rise of Respectable Society: A Social History of Victorian Britain, 1830—1900 (London: Fontana, 1988), 293.
(102.) Richard Puffert, “Path Dependence in Spatial Networks: The Standardization of Railway Track Gauge,” Explorations in Economic History 39 (2002): 287, 290.
(103.) Webby, “Reading in Colonial Australia.”
(104.) Sussex, Blockbuster!
(105.) Charlotte Mathieson, Mobility in the Victorian Novel: Placing the Nation (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 2.
(106.) The idea of the Australian uncanny is a central tenet in Australian literary studies, elaborated most influentially by Ken Gelder and Jane Jacobs, in Uncanny Australia: Sacredness and Identity in a Postcolonial Nation (Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 1998) in relation most specifically to unresolved anxiety about white belonging in a postcolonial nation stained and damaged by violence against indigenous Australians, but stemming back to colonial understandings of place (arguably arising from the same source), such as Marcus Clarke’s enduring “weird melancholy” introduction to Adam Lindsay Gordon’s poetry collection Sea Spray and Smoke Drift (Melbourne: George Robertson, 1867), in which he described the environment as a gothic and uncanny space.
(107.) Bode, Reading by Numbers, 19.
(108.) Bode, Reading by Numbers, 28.
(109.) Craig Munro and Robyn Sheahan-Bright, Paper Empires: A History of the Book in Australia 1946–2005 (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2006), 28; and Eggert, “Australian Classics and the Price of Books.”
(110.) Elizabeth Webby, “Not Reading the Nation: Australian Readers of the 1890s,” Australian Literary Studies 22, no. 3 (2006): 308–318; and Webby, “Reading in Colonial Australia,” “Australian Literature and the Reading Public in the Eighteen-Twenties,” “English Literature in Early Australia: 1830–1839,” and “Colonial Writers and Readers.”
(111.) Bode, Reading by Numbers, chap. 1.