Australian Literature

Works in section R: Other Literatures in English/General are important to research in Australian literature.

Research Methods


Christenberry, H. Faye, and Angela Courtney. Literary Research and the Literatures of Australia and New Zealand: Strategies and Sources. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2011. 267 pp. Lit. Research: Strategies and Sources 6. (Updates appear at PR9604.3.C47 820.9′994072.

A guide to research strategies and reference sources for the scholar working with Australian or New Zealand literature (with particular attention to the challenges facing those living outside the countries). Following an admirably clear explanation of the basics of online searching are chapters on general literary reference sources; library catalogs; print and electronic bibliographies, indexes, and annual reviews (including some devoted to individual writers); scholarly journals; literary reviews; magazines and newspapers; microform and digital collections; manuscripts and archives; and Web resources. The last chapter demonstrates how to use many of the works and strategies previously discussed to develop a research plan (with Aboriginal Australian literature serving as an example). An appendix lists sources in related disciplines. Indexed by authors, titles, and subjects. Describing fully the uses of kinds of reference tools, providing illuminating examples in discussions of key individual resources, detailing techniques for finding kinds of information (including strategies for those without access to key resources such as AustLit [R4463]), illustrating research processes, and perpetuating the high standards reflected by the other volumes in the series, Literary Research and the Literatures of Australia and New Zealand is the essential starting point for anyone working with literatures of the two countries.

Guides to Reference Works


Lock, Fred, and Alan Lawson. Australian Literature: A Reference Guide. 2nd ed. Melbourne: Oxford UP, 1980. 120 pp. Australian Bibliogs. Z4011.L6 [PR9604.3] 016.82.

A selective guide to reference sources important to research in Australian literature. The 417 entries—which comprise general works as well as those specific to Australia—are variously organized in seven classified divisions: bibliographies; other reference works (including encyclopedias, language dictionaries, guides to quotations and proverbs, biographical dictionaries, literary handbooks, and literary and cultural histories); individual authors (limited to bibliographies, textual studies, and biographies); periodicals; library resources (with informative descriptions of important collections of Australian literature in the country’s libraries); general guides to literary, bibliographical, and biographical research; and professional associations. Many sections are preceded by headnotes that compare works and offer helpful tips on research procedures. The full annotations clearly describe and frequently evaluate works. Judiciously selective and informative but now dated, this is the essential guide to research in Australian literature. A new edition is a major desideratum. Review: Laurie Hergenhan, Australian Literary Studies 9.4 (1980): 542–47.

Horst Priessnitz and Marion Spies, Neuere Informationsmittel zur Literatur Australiens: Ein bibliographischer Essay (Hamburg: Lit, 1996; 67 pp.; Anglophone Literaturen: Hamburger Beiträge zur Erforschung neuer englischsprachiger Literaturen/Anglophone Lits.: Hamburg Studies in the New Lits. in English 3)—with coverage through 1995 and including some works in progress—is an essential complement to Australian Literature. Each section begins with a list of reference sources, the majority of which are described in an accompanying essay (with numerous additional works cited in footnotes). Unfortunately, the lack of an index and the essay format make Neuere Informationsmittel zur Literatur Australiens less accessible than it should be.

The best general guide to reference works (through 1974) on Australia is D. H. Borchardt, Australian Bibliography: A Guide to Printed Sources of Information [3rd ed.] (Rushcutters Bay: Pergamon, 1976; 270 pp.). The descriptive surveys, keyed to a list of works cited and accompanied by an inadequate subject index, are difficult to scan, however.

Researchers must supplement the preceding with Christenberry and Courtney, Literary Research and the Literatures of Australia and New Zealand: Strategies and Sources (R4435).

Histories and Surveys


Green, H. M. A History of Australian Literature Pure and Applied: A Critical Review of All Forms of Literature Produced in Australia from the First Books Published after the Arrival of the First Fleet until 1950. Rev. Dorothy Green. 2 vols. Sydney: Angus, 1984–85. PR9604.3.G74 820′.9′994.

A critical history of belletristic, philosophical, biographical, theological, historical, and scholarly writing by Australian residents or those influenced by their stay in the country. The history is organized in four periods (1789–1850, 1850–90, 1890–1923, and 1923–50), each divided in two parts—belles lettres and applied literature—with chapters on genres or types of works. Vol. 3, which was to cover 1950–80, was never published. Indexed in vol. 2 by persons, titles, and some subjects. Although in need of updating and superseded in parts by more specialized studies, Green remains the seminal history of Australian literature. Review: (vols. 1–2) Bruce Bennett, Australian Literary Studies 12.4 (1986): 542–46 (includes a comparison with Goodwin, History of Australian Literature [below]).

The best short histories are Ken Goodwin, A History of Australian Literature (New York: St. Martin’s, 1986; 322 pp.), which extends to 1984; Laurie Hergenhan, gen. ed., The Penguin New Literary History of Australia (Victoria: Penguin, 1988; 620 pp.; also published as Australian Literary Studies 13.4 [1988]), with chapters on periods, genres, groups, culture, and literary production; and Bruce Bennett and Jennifer Strauss, eds., The Oxford Literary History of Australia (Melbourne: Oxford UP, 1998; 488 pp.), which replaces (but for Joy Hooton’s bibliographical survey, pp. 427–90) the less satisfactory The Oxford History of Australian Literature, ed. Leonie Kramer (Melbourne: Oxford UP, 1981; 509 pp.).

Literary Handbooks, Dictionaries, and Encyclopedias


Wilde, William H., Joy Hooton, and Barry Andrews. The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature. 2nd ed. Melbourne: Oxford UP, 1994. 833 pp. PR9600.2.W55 820′.9′944. Online through Oxford Reference (I530).

Covers all aspects of Australian literary culture in about 3,000 entries on authors (including historians, critics, and journalists, but with very selective coverage of contemporary writers), major works, literary and scholarly journals, awards, societies, movements, publishers, literary characters and types, cultural and scholarly organizations, Australian life and history, places, other literature-related topics, and foreign writers who visited the continent or had an impact on its literature. Author entries (which predominate in the listings) include basic biographical information, a brief overview of important works, appreciative commentary in some instances, and (for major writers) a selective list of criticism. Entrants are indexed in Biography and Genealogy Master Index (J565). Although the Oxford Companion is a useful source for quick reference, several reviewers have noted significant omissions, numerous contradictions in editorial guidelines, and several errors and have questioned the overall balance of the work. Reviews: Overland 102 (1986): 6–15; Miriam J. Shillingsburg, Review 9 (1987): 231–39; (2nd ed.) Brian Kiernan, Antipodes 9.2 (1995): 168–70; Marion Spiess, Australian Literary Studies 17.3 (1996): 310–17 (with numerous additions for nineteenth-century literature).


The Dictionary of Australian Quotations. Ed. Stephen Murray-Smith. 2nd ed. Port Melbourne: Mandarin, 1992. 493 pp. PN6081.D496 828′.02.

A dictionary of quotations ranging from aboriginal times to the late 1980s and encompassing “anything worth retrieving and repeating that has been said by outsiders about Australia, and anything worth collecting that Australians have said about anything.” Quotations are organized alphabetically by author. Two indexes: keywords; subjects. The corrected reprint of the original edition (Richmond: Heinemann, 1987; 464 pp.) remains useful for quotations deleted in the second edition. The Dictionary is the best source for locating quotations from Australian authors or about the country.

Additional quotations can be found in The Macquarie Dictionary of Australian Quotations, ed. Stephen Torre ([Sydney]: Macquarie Lib., 1990; 431 pp.).



Hooton, Joy, and Harry Heseltine. Annals of Australian Literature. 2nd ed. Melbourne: Oxford UP, 1992. 367 pp. Z4021.H66 [PR9604.3] 016.8208′0994.

A chronology from 1784 through 1988 of Australian literary works (interpreted broadly to include historical, biographical, political, anthropological, popular, critical, and philological works). Under each year the main column lists author, year of birth, literary work (primarily books), and genre; the secondary column notes births and deaths of writers, the founding of newspapers and periodicals, and publication of nonliterary books by Australians and of significant foreign works referring to Australia. Indexed by authors. Interpreting entries requires continual reference to the key to abbreviations and symbols (p. viii). The introductory discussion of editorial principles is utterly inadequate: for a full understanding of the inclusion and presentation of material readers are expected to consult the original edition (Grahame Johnston, Annals of Australian Literature [Melbourne: Oxford UP, 1970; 147 pp.]). Hooton and Heseltine merely note that their selection of entries is “based on an even broader idea of literature” than Johnston’s and inexcusably provide only “an abbreviated version” of his “principles of presentation.” The exclusion of political, cultural, and historical events and limitation to books make Annals of Australian Literature less useful than it could be for placing a work or author in an intellectual context. Reviews: Australian Literary Studies 4.4 (1970): 421–24; S. J. Routh, Meanjin Quarterly 29.4 (1970): 555–59.

The chronology in Goodwin, History of Australian Literature (R4445a), is a useful supplement.

Guides to Primary Works

Lock and Lawson, Australian Literature (R4440), has a valuable discussion of how to identify and locate Australian books (pp. 15–17) and descriptions of Australian library collections (pp. 90–97).



Trove. National Library of Australia. Natl. Lib. of Australia, n.d. 7 Jan. 2013. <>. Updated daily.

A crowd-sourced site that includes a variety of documents related to Australia and Australians, including pictures, digitized newspapers, recent theses, archived Web sites, as well as manuscript and archival material. The site absorbed the records from Register of Australian Archives and Manuscripts (RAAM), a union register of manuscript collections and individual manuscripts held by Australian libraries and archives. The register covered collections (including those not directly related to Australia), individual manuscripts of primary material, photocopies or microfilms of documents related to the continent, and personal papers in government archives; it excluded unpublished copies of secondary material (e.g., conference papers or theses), media, microfilms or photocopies of non-Australian material, and government records. The Diaries, Letters, and Archives section of Trove is less stringent in its restrictions. Since data in RAAM was taken from a variety of printed and other sources as well as from information submitted by repositories, individual records vary in amount of information and extent of description; the same is true of records created in Trove, which also includes ones submitted by individuals or culled from other electronic sources. A full record includes RAAM number, name of the creator of the collection (e.g., an author or the individual or organization responsible for forming the collection), title of collection, a Check Copyright Status link, date(s) covered by the collection, physical format, size, occupation of the collection creator, keyword subject descriptors, summary (i.e., a description of the content of the collection), biographical note (on the creator), names of individuals represented in the collection, access information, finding aids, finding aid URL, location (linked to the collection’s home page), call number, contributor of the record, tags and comments by users, date created, and date of last update.

In the basic search screen, users can search by keyword; in advanced search, users can combine keyword, title, creator, and subject fields and limit a search by date, format, availability, language, and library or institution. Searching returns records in relevance order; they can be sorted by ascending or descending date.

Trove is the place to begin when searching for Australian manuscript materials; however, searches return many records from nonarchival sources or with no discernible Australian association from locations outside the continent. Researchers looking for literary manuscripts should also search Guide to Australian Literary Manuscripts (, a database of detailed guides to more than 100 collections.

Printed Works


AustLit: The Australian Literature Resource. U of Queensland, n.d. 5 Mar. 2013. <>. Updated daily. (Former titles: AustLit: The Resource for Australian Literature and AustLit: The Australian Literature Gateway.)

A database of print and electronic creative and critical writing and literary nonfiction published since c. 1780 by Australians (including expatriates and visitors) and about Australian literature. Most general discussions of Australian studies, language, or culture are excluded; self-published works are given minimal treatment.

The database includes three kinds of records: biographical (names[s], birth and death dates, ethnicity, summary of life and literary career, links to archival resources, and links to kinds of works by and about the author); organizational (name[s], dates and places of activity, place in and contribution to Australian literature, and selected references); bibliographical (title, publication information, list of editions, content notes, subject headings, translations, and tables of contents for anthologies and collected works). Many bibliographical records include a Library Holdings link. Since AustLit employs the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) model, records are contextualized (e.g., a record for a work will include versions of it as well as individual editions or printings). For a discussion of the importance of such contextualized records, see Carol Hetherington, “Setting the Record Straight: Bibliography and Australian Literature,” Australian Literary Studies 21.2 (2003): 198–208.

In Quick Search users can search by keyword, title, or author. Advanced Search allows users to construct a custom search form by selecting attributes in the name (i.e., creator of a work), title, place of composition, author’s works as subject, and subject fields (e.g., the title field allows users to select such subfields as title; publication details; type, form, or genre; awards; source; first line of poem, notes, or role). Guided Search allows users to combine fields for author, language, gender, cultural heritage, year and place of birth, title, subject, date, type, form, and genre; several fields have pull-down menus or a link to the thesaurus. Full Text Search is limited to works digitized by AustLit. Users can also search the thesaurus.

Users can restrict searches to several research subsets (listed under Research & Publications; some include independently produced databases), including book history and print culture, children’s literature, drama, multicultural writers, and south Australia women writers. Searches can be limited to full-text records or separately published works (i.e., books); results can be ordered by date, title, book, or electronic resource (i.e., books or electronic resources will appear at the head of the list, followed by other records in descending chronological order). Users who need to perform more than a simple search should study the Search Tips screen. Users should note that AustLit plans to release a new search interface in spring 2013.

Because the names of search fields are not always clear, users should read the AustLit Fields page before searching (click Help). Records can be marked for e-mailing or screen display (and thence downloaded or printed).

Its sophisticated search interface, currency (records for many works appear within days of their publications), contextualization of a work, and breadth of coverage make AustLit the essential resource for identifying Australian literary works and writings about them.

Bibliography of Australian Literature, ed. John Arnold and John Hay (Saint Lucia: U of Queensland P, 2001– )—which is intended to supersede Miller, Australian Literature from Its Beginnings to 1935 (R4475) and Macartney’s Australian Literature (R4475a)—is now being compiled within AustLit. Coverage is limited to separately published books of creative writing (including poetry, fiction, drama, and collections of short stories) by Australian authors addressed to readers of all ages and published through 2000 (an appendix will eventually extend coverage in vol. 1 through 2000). Books for an adult audience must be by a single author; those for children may contain the work of no more than four writers. Included are authors who were born in Australia and resident there for a substantial part of their lives or during their formative years as well as writers born overseas but now considered Australian or who resided in the country “and produced a work of creative literature reflecting their experiences.” Entries provide a full description of the first edition and location of copy examined and brief citations to selected later editions. The compilers attempt to see a copy of all titles except romance and pulp fiction.


Australian National Bibliography (ANB). Canberra: Natl. Lib. of Australia, 1961–96. Monthly, with four-month, eight-month, and annual cumulations. Available since 1980 on microfiche. Z4015.A96 015.94.

A national bibliography of Australian publications deposited for copyright in the National Library, as well as of some foreign works by Australian authors or about the country. At its demise ANB was published in four parts: a subject list organized by Dewey Decimal Classification (with full cataloging information for each entry); author, title, and series index; subject index; and list of periodicals. Both indexes cite classification rather than page. Once the fullest record of current Australian publications, ANB was absorbed by Libraries Australia ( [formerly Kinetica]) as part of the Australian National Bibliographic Database.

ANB continues the Annual Catalogue of Australian Publications, [1936–60], 25 vols. (Canberra: Natl. Lib. of Australia, 1937–61), a combined main entry and subject list of books deposited for copyright and foreign publications about Australia. Retrospective coverage is offered by Australian National Bibliography, 1901–1950, 4 vols. (Canberra: Natl. Lib. of Australia, 1988), which includes Australian imprints, as well as foreign publications by Australians or about the country.

Since works by ethnic writers were frequently not submitted for copyright, researchers must also consult the following:

  • The Multicultural research subset in AustLit (R4463).

  • Ethnic Writings in English from Australia: A Bibliography. 3rd ed. Adelaide: Australian Literary Studies, 1984. 124 pp. Adelaide ALS Working Papers.

  • Lumb, Peter, and Anne Hazell, eds. Diversity and Diversion: An Annotated Bibliography of Australian Ethnic Minority Literature. Richmond: Hodja, 1983. 123 pp.


Ferguson, John Alexander. Bibliography of Australia. Facsimile ed. 7 vols. Canberra: Natl. Lib. of Australia, 1975–77. Addenda, 1784–1850 (Volumes I to IV). 1986. 706 pp. Z4011.F47 [DU96] 016.994.

A retrospective national bibliography covering 1784 to 1900 that attempts to record for the period 1784–1850 all Australian imprints as well as foreign publications “relating in any way” to the country; for the years 1851–1900, excludes belles lettres, periodicals, and governmental papers, as well as legal, scientific, technical, and certain ephemeral publications. Works by Australians published elsewhere and lacking a reference to the country are sometimes mentioned in notes. In vols. 1–4 (1784–1850), entries are organized by year of publication, then alphabetically by author, corporate author, or title of anonymous work; vols. 5–7 (1851–1900) consist of a single alphabetical list. Entries provide a transcription of title page; size; pagination; list of contents or description of content relating to Australia; publication information (if not on the title page); occasionally extensive notes on content, reprints and other editions, related scholarship, and bibliographical matters; and locations of copies (with a list of supplementary locations inserted in vols. 1–2 of the facsimile edition). Vol. 2 prints additions to 1; vol. 4, additions and corrections to 1–3. The Addenda incorporates these additions and corrections, adds new entries, revises some existing ones, and lists additional locations; the National Library no longer plans to publish addenda to vols. 5–7 and a cumulative index. Indexed by titles, authors, and corporate authors in each of the first four volumes. Book trade personnel are indexed in Ian Morrison, The Publishing Industry in Colonial Australia: A Name Index to John Alexander Ferguson’s Bibliography of Australia, 1784–1900 (Melbourne: Bibliog. Soc. of Australia and New Zealand, 1996; 162 pp.; BSANZ Occasional Pub. 6).

While the numerous omissions, errors, and inconsistencies make Ferguson untrustworthy as a descriptive bibliography, it remains the most complete guide to Australian literature through 1850; the record is continued, although less satisfactorily, to 1950 by Macartney, Australian Literature (R4475a). Review: Brian McMullen, Australian Library Journal 25.1 (1976): 39–40.

Books by female Australian writers are more thoroughly covered in Debra Adelaide, Bibliography of Australian Women’s Literature: A Listing of Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Non-fiction Published in Monograph Form Arranged Alphabetically by Author (Port Melbourne: Thorpe–Natl. Centre for Australian Studies, 1991; 270 pp.), an author list of about 11,500 titles culled, for the most part, from other sources rather than personal examination.


Miller, E. Morris. Australian Literature from Its Beginnings to 1935: A Descriptive and Bibliographical Survey of Books by Australian Authors in Poetry, Drama, Fiction, Criticism, and Anthology with Subsidiary Entries to 1938. Facsimile rpt., with corrections and additions. 2 vols. Sydney: Sydney UP, 1975. Z4021.M5 016.82′08.

A bibliography of separately published works by Australian natives or residents who wrote or commenced at least one book in the country. Although the focus is belles lettres, the notes cite a substantial number of other books by philosophers, artists, historians, and scientists who published at least one literary work. Entries are organized by genre: poetry, drama, fiction, and criticism (with sections for essays and reviews; English, Australian, classical, and modern literature; anthologies and miscellanies). Within each section, authors are listed chronologically by date of first publication in the genre. A typical author entry consists of a list of separately published literary works (and some editions thereof) accompanied by bibliographical notes and, for fiction, a one- or two-sentence summary; references to scholarship, bibliographies, and manuscripts; reprints and excerpts in anthologies and some periodical contributions; and major nonliterary works. (The amount and organization of information vary from author to author, however.) Each genre division is prefaced by a lengthy historical introduction composed largely of biographical and critical discussions of authors. In the facsimile reprint, the separately issued additions and corrections appear on pp. 1075–78. An appendix lists novels associated with Australia by foreign authors. Three indexes: subjects of fiction; subjects of Australian literature and persons not in the general index of Australian authors; Australian authors.

Australian Literature: A Bibliography to 1938, extended to 1950 and ed. Frederick T. Macartney (Sydney: Angus, 1956; 503 pp.), extends coverage to 1950, incorporates Miller’s corrections and rearranges entries into a straightforward author list, but deletes nonbelletristic works, children’s books, translations, critical and scholarly works except those about Australian literature, anthologized reprints, contributions to periodicals, references to scholarship and bibliographies, introductions, and indexes. A few corrections and additions to the enlarged edition are listed in Clive Hamer, “‘Not in Miller,’” Meanjin 15.4 (1956): 419, which is followed by Miller’s brief description of his compilation of the original bibliography (pp. 420–21). Macartney’s defense of his reworking of Miller and rejoinder to several negative reviews (such as Russel Ward, Meanjin 15.2 [1956]: 212–14) make up An Odious Comparison: Considered in Its Relation to Australian Literature (Black Rock: Bulldozer Booklets, 1956; 15 pp.).

Although Macartney’s revision is more current and consolidates an author’s separately published literary works, the original edition includes much more complete information and provides some subject access. Together, the two offer the single fullest record of separately published Australian literary works from 1850 to 1950. Before 1850, more thorough and accurate coverage is offered by Ferguson, Bibliography of Australia (R4470), and the Bibliography of Australian Literature database (R4463a) is designed to supersede Miller and Macartney.

See also

Andrews and Wilde, Australian Literature to 1900 (R4485).

“Annual Bibliography of Commonwealth Literature” (R4375).

“Annual Bibliography of Studies in Australian Literature” (R4480).

Guides to Scholarship and Criticism

Serial Bibliographies


““Annual Bibliography of Studies in Australian Literature, [1963–2008]”.” Australian Literary Studies 1–24 (1964–2009). PR9400.A86 820′.9′994.

A selective list of studies of Australian literature, language, and area studies, along with “new books (with reviews of them) by contemporary writers whose work has attracted substantial discussion.” In several installments, electronic journals are not covered. In the bibliographies for 1989–92 (14–16 [1990–93]) coverage of most North American publications was ceded to Antipodes (see below), which—even after the bibliography for 1992—offers fuller coverage of North American publications. Entries—drawn partly from other bibliographies (the bibliography for 2008 is “derived directly from AustLit” [R4463])—are listed in two divisions: general studies and individual authors; some entries are accompanied by a brief annotation. Entries from the individual-authors division in the bibliographies for 1963–95 are cumulated and augmented in The ALS Guide to Australian Writers: A Bibliography, 1963–1995, 2nd ed., ed. Martin Duwell, Marianne Ehrhardt, and Carol Hetherington (Saint Lucia: Queensland UP, 1997; 489 pp.).

An essential complement is “Bibliography of Australian and New Zealand Literature and Criticism Published in North America, [1985– ],” Antipodes 3– (1989– ; title varies), whose unannotated entries are organized in two divisions: works by and about individual authors; general studies. Many of the entries are taken from other serial bibliographies, and there are gaps in coverage of years.

The “Annual Bibliography,” “Bibliography of Australian and New Zealand Literature,” and the Australia division of “Annual Bibliography of Commonwealth Literature” (R4375) are primarily useful to researchers who lack access to AustLit (R4463).

See also

Secs. G: Serial Bibliographies, Indexes, and Abstracts and H: Guides to Dissertations and Theses.

ABELL (G340): Entries on Australian writers and literature are dispersed throughout.

MLAIB (G335): English Literature division (especially English III: General) through the volume for 1956; English XI: Australia, Canada, Etc./Australia section in the volumes for 1957–66; English II: Australia, Canada, Etc./Australia section in the volumes for 1967–80; and the [British] Commonwealth Literature/Australian Literature section in later volumes. Researchers must also check the headings beginning with “Australian(s)” in the subject index to post-1980 volumes or in the online thesaurus.

YWES (G330): Australian literature has been covered in the chapter for African, Caribbean, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and Indian Literatures in English since vol. 64 (for 1983).

Other Bibliographies


Andrews, Barry G., and William H. Wilde. Australian Literature to 1900: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale, 1980. 472 pp. Amer. Lit., English Lit., and World Lits. in English: An Information Guide Ser. 22. Z4021.A54 [PR9604.3] 016.82.

A selective, annotated bibliography of primary and secondary works (published through 1976) on Australian literature from 1788 to 1900. Andrews and Wilde include 72 authors who had significant work published before 1900 or who clearly belong to the 1890s, but they generally exclude publications not related to the country. The 1,576 entries—augmented by numerous others cited in annotations or headnotes—are organized in three divisions: general works (including sections for bibliographies, reference works, literary history and criticism, Australian English, nineteenth-century periodicals, and anthologies), individual authors (including a biographical headnote and sections for bibliographies, primary works—by genre, with a note on manuscript collections—and studies), and selected nonfiction (with sections for exploration, transportation, travel, history and biography, and literary and theatrical autobiographies). Although a work is entered only once, cross-references are provided in headnotes to sections. The typically full annotations are generally informative and frequently evaluative. Two indexes: persons; titles. Judicious selection, accuracy, and helpful annotations make this a valuable guide to the study of Australian literature before 1900. Reviews: L. T. Hergenhan, Australian Literary Studies 10.3 (1981): 137–39; Alan Lawson, Modern Language Review 78.3 (1983): 692–94.


Ross, Robert L. Australian Literary Criticism, 1945–1988: An Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1989. 375 pp. Garland Reference Lib. of the Humanities 1075. Z4024.C8 R67 [PR9604.3] 016.82′09.

A selective annotated bibliography of English-language studies and anthologies (the majority published between 1945 and June 1988), dissertations abstracted in ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (H465), and—incongruously—novels about the convict period. The 1,397 entries are organized by publication date in most of the seven classified divisions: general works, international views (including comparative studies), special topics (such as aborigines, fiction about the convict period, film, language, and women’s studies), fiction, poetry, drama, and 42 major writers (with sections for published books, special issues of journals, interviews, critical studies, and bibliographies). Although brief, the annotations generally offer an adequate description of content. Two indexes: scholars; literary authors and subjects; also indexed in Biography and Genealogy Master Index (J565). The subject indexing is inadequate and the criteria governing selection are too vague; however, Ross offers a useful preliminary guide to criticism from 1945 through mid-1988 of Australian literature. Researchers must supplement coverage with other works in this Guides to Scholarship and Criticism section. Review: Ken Goodwin, World Literature Written in English 29.1 (1989): 85–87.

See also

AustLit (R4463).

Boos, Bibliography of Women and Literature (U6600).

Lever, Wieland, and Findlay, Post-colonial Literatures in English: Australia, 1970–1992 (R4380a).

New, Critical Writings on Commonwealth Literatures (R4380).

Oxford History of Australian Literature (R4445a).

Schwartz, Articles on Women Writers (U6605).


Guides to Scholarship


ABELL (G340): Dialects section of the English Language division in the volumes for 1920–26; the English Dialects section in the volumes for 1927–72; the Dialects/Australia and New Zealand section in the volumes for 1973–84; the Dialects/Australasia section in the volumes for 1985–86; and the Dialects/Dialects of the Rest of the World section in later volumes.

Andrews and Wilde, Australian Literature to 1900 (R4485).

“Annual Bibliography of Studies in Australian Literature” (R4480).

Day, Modern Australian Prose, 1901–1975 (R4530).

MLAIB (G335): See the English I: Linguistics section through the volume for 1966; the Indo-European C: Germanic Linguistics IV: English/Modern English/Dialectology section in the volumes for 1967–80; and the Indo-European Languages/Germanic Languages/West Germanic Languages/English Language (Modern)/Dialectology section in later volumes. Researchers must also check the “Australian English Dialect” heading in the subject index to post-1980 volumes and in the online thesaurus.



The Australian National Dictionary: A Dictionary of Australianisms on Historical Principles (AND). Ed. W. S. Ramson. Melbourne: Oxford UP, 1988. 814 pp. <>. PE3601.Z5 A865. (A new edition is in progress.)

A historical dictionary of terms distinctly or prominently Australian. The approximately 6,000 main entries provide pronunciation; part(s) of speech; variant spellings; a note on history and derivation, with a cross-reference, where appropriate, to the Oxford English Dictionary (M1410); definition(s) organized by part of speech; and illustrative quotations, arranged chronologically, for each definition. The online version can be searched or browsed by headword. AND is an essential complement to the Oxford English Dictionary and the indispensable source for the historical study of Australian English and explication of literary works by Australian writers. For the history of the AND, see Ramson, Lexical Images: The Story of the Australian National Dictionary (Victoria: Oxford UP, 2002; 255 pp.). Review: David Bradley, Australian Journal of Linguistics 9.1 (1989): 191–95.

The best treatment of colloquial language is G. A. Wilkes, A Dictionary of Australian Colloquialisms, 4th ed. (Melbourne: Oxford UP, 1996; 426 pp.), with dated quotations accompanying definitions. Also useful is The Macquarie Dictionary, ed. Susan Butler, 5th ed. (Sydney: Macquarie Dictionary, 2009; 1,940 pp.; available online through Credo Reference [] and at

Biographical Dictionaries


Australian Dictionary of Biography Online (ADB Online). Australian National University. Australian Natl. U, 2006–13. 7 Jan. 2013. <>. Updated regularly.

Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB). Douglas Pike, Bede Nairn, Geoffrey Serle, John Ritchie, Di Langmore, and Melanie Nolan, gen. eds. Carlton: Melbourne UP, 1966– . CT2802.A95 920.094. CD-ROM (vols. 1–12). <>.

  • Vols. 1–2: 1788–1850. 1966–67.

  • Vols. 3–6: 1851–90. 1969–76.

  • Vols. 7–12: 1891–1939. 1979–90.

  • Index: Volumes 1 to 12, 1788–1939. Ed. Hilary Kent. 1991. 326 pp.

  • Vols. 13–16: 1940–1980. 1993–2002.

  • Vols. 17–18: 1981–1990. 2007–2012.

  • Supplement, 1580–1980. Ed. Christopher Cunneen. 2005. 520 pp.

A biographical dictionary that includes entries on important and representative Australians. (Other than vetting by various committees, selection criteria are undefined.) Placement in vols. 1–12 is determined by the period of the individual’s most important work; placement in later volumes is by date of death. A typical entry summarizes basic biographical and career information and concludes with a brief list of important scholarship and unpublished papers. Separate lists of corrections are tipped in all volumes; those for vols. 1–12 are consolidated in the Index, which includes separate indexes for persons, places of birth, and occupations (superseded by ADB Online). H. J. Gibbney and Ann G. Smith, comps. and eds., A Biographical Register, 1788–1939: Notes from the Name Index of the Australian Dictionary of Biography , 2 vols. (Canberra: Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1987), is a more rudimentary index to individuals and their occupations (but provides basic biographical and bibliographical information on numerous individuals not in ADB). Names in vols. 1–16 and the first supplement are indexed in Supplement, 1580–1980. ADB Online renders superfluous Julie G. Marshall and Richard C. S. Trahair, Occupational Index to the Australian Dictionary of Biography (1788–1890), Volumes I–VI (Bundoora: Dept. of Sociology, La Trobe U, 1979; 139 pp.; La Trobe Working Papers in Sociology 43), and Occupational Index to the Australian Dictionary of Biography (1891–1939), Volumes VII–IX, A–Las (1985; 100 pp.; La Trobe Working Papers in Sociology 71). The National Centre of Biography at the Australian National University maintains a research file on each entrant and a biographical register with information on more than 300,000 persons not in the Dictionary; the register is being transformed into Obituaries Australia (, a digital archive.

As volumes are published, entries are incorporated into Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, which is adding portraits to entries, expanding the bibliographies, and providing hyperlinks. (Planned enhancements include links to digitized material, thematic essays, expanded bibliographies, an obituaries database, and “online research tools to track, enumerate and visualise social networks.”) Search offers simple keyword searches of personal names or the entire text. In Advanced Search, users can search by biographee, gender, date of birth, date of death, birthplace, place of death, ethnicity and religious affiliation, and occupation (users must work from a nested list and remember to click Add Term). Browse and Faceted Browse allow browsing by biographee, place of birth or death, date of birth or death, ethnicity, gender, occupation, religion, and contributor. Results—which can be sorted (in ascending or descending order) by surname, date of birth, or date of death—can be printed or downloaded only through a Web browser’s print or save commands. ADB Online allows for sophisticated retrieval of information in the standard general source for biographical information on Australians.

For persons not in ADB, consult Percival Serle, Dictionary of Australian Biography, 2 vols. (Sydney: Angus, 1949), and the current edition of Who’s Who in Australia (North Melbourne: Crown Content, 1922– ; annual; online as Who’s Who in Australia Live!).


Guides to Primary Works


Stuart, Lurline. Australian Periodicals with Literary Content, 1821–1926: An Annotated Bibliography. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly, 2003. 178 pp. Z6962.A8 S78 [PN5517.P4].

A bibliography of periodicals (excluding newspapers) of some literary interest published in Australia through 1925. The 576 entries, arranged alphabetically by original title, include (when possible) title, subtitle, motto or epigraph, printer, publisher, editor(s), frequency, dates of publication and title changes, size, average number of pages, price, presence of illustrations, locations in Australian collections, description of content, and important writers and articles published. Concludes with a chronological list of periodicals. Indexed by persons, publishers, and printers. Although a subject index would greatly increase its usefulness, Stuart is the essential guide to identifying and locating these frequently scarce and ephemeral periodicals.

See also

Vann and VanArsdel, Periodicals of Queen Victoria’s Empire: An Exploration (M2525a).


Some works in section L: Genres are useful for research in Australian literature.


Some works in section L: Genres/Fiction are useful for research in Australian fiction.

Guides to Primary Works

Torre, Stephen. The Australian Short Story, 1940–1980: A Bibliography. Sydney: Hale, 1984. 367 pp. Z4024.S5 T67 [PR9612.5] 016.823′01′08994.

An index to English-language short fiction (along with selected criticism) by writers born, resident in, or otherwise associated with Australia and first published between 1940 and 1980 in anthologies, single-author collections, or 12 major Australian periodicals. Torre excludes fiction for children and transcriptions of oral narratives, but otherwise defines “short story” broadly. The entries are organized in five divisions: an author bibliography of short stories and criticism (with sections for single-author collections, including the contents of each; individual short stories, with the publishing history of each in the periodicals, collections, and anthologies selected for indexing; anthologies and miscellanies edited by the author; other publications by the author that are of some importance to his or her short fiction; and critical studies, including reviews); a list of periodicals that publish short fiction by Australian authors, including the 12 selected for full indexing; a title list of anthologies and miscellanies indexed; a superfluous list of single-author collections indexed; and general studies of short stories and reference works, the bulk of which are on Australian short fiction. An appendix provides a chronological list of the journals that hosted Tabloid Story. Although the work is not comprehensive, especially for periodical fiction, and although much information is taken secondhand, Torre is the single best source for identifying Australian short stories and critical studies of them.

Guides to Scholarship and Criticism

Day, A. Grove. Modern Australian Prose, 1901–1975: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale, 1980. 462 pp. Amer. Lit., English Lit., and World Lits. in English: An Information Guide Ser. 29. Z4011.D38 [PR9604.3] 016.82.

A highly selective, annotated bibliography of primary and secondary works that also includes a brief section on drama. Limited to works (generally published between 1901 and 1975) about Australia by citizens and others resident in the country, Modern Australian Prose excludes some important publications by Australian authors. The general cutoff for studies is 1976 (although a few later publications are admitted). Entries are organized in four classified divisions: general works (with sections for bibliographies, reference works, literary history and criticism, Australian English, periodicals, and anthologies), fiction (organized by author, with sections under each for bibliographies, primary works, and criticism), nonfiction (a highly selective list organized by genre or topic and including a section on aborigines), and drama (with sections for bibliographies, studies, and primary works). Most of the annotations are adequately descriptive. Three indexes: scholars; book titles; subjects (including authors). Because of the degree of selectivity (recent authors are slighted) and numerous errors, Day is useful primarily as a starting point for research on prose. (The drama section, seemingly an afterthought, is completely inadequate.) Reviews: Laurie Hergenhan, Australian Literary Studies 10.3 (1982): 407–08; Alan Lawson, Modern Language Review 78.3 (1983): 692–94.

For fiction before 1901, see Andrews and Wilde, Australian Literature to 1900 (R4485). Supplement coverage with Rose Marie Beston and John B. Beston, “Critical Writings on Modern New Zealand and Australian Fiction: A Selected Checklist,” Modern Fiction Studies 27.1 (1981): 189–204; New, Critical Writings on Commonwealth Literatures (R4380); and “Annual Bibliography of Commonwealth Literature” (R4375).

Drama and Theater

Some works in section L: Genres/Drama and Theater are useful for research in Australian drama and theater.

Histories and Surveys

Love, Harold, ed. The Australian Stage: A Documentary History. Kensington: New South Wales UP with Australian Theatre Studies Centre School of Drama, U of New South Wales, 1984. 383 pp. PN3011.A97 792′.0994.

A collection of extracts from documents (including reviews, articles, autobiographies, manuscripts, illustrations, and photographs) that depict the history of the Australian stage to 1980. The emphasis is on Australian drama professionally produced in Sydney and Melbourne, with less attention to foreign language, amateur, and educational theater and excluding opera, film, and television. The heart of the work is the extensive extracts, which describe productions of both Australian and foreign plays. The extracts are organized chronologically in four periods (1788–1853, 1854–1900, 1901–50, and 1950–80), followed by a section reproducing pictorial documents depicting productions, theaters, sets, and performers. Each period begins with a summary of theatrical activity and includes one or two essays on aspects of the theater of the time (e.g., theater of the convict era, dramatic criticism from 1850 to 1890, Australian plays on Australian topics, vaudeville, state theater companies, and alternative theater). Most essays conclude with an evaluative guide to further reading, and the last section of the book is an extensive bibliography of studies of Australian theater. Indexed by persons, titles, and subjects. Valuable for its extensive documentation, this is the most trustworthy source of information on the Australian stage. More extensive but less factually reliable coverage of Australian drama is offered by Rees, History of Australian Drama (R4540). Review: Veronica Kelly, Australian Literary Studies 12.4 (1986): 546–50.


Rees, Leslie. A History of Australian Drama. Rev. and enl. ed. 2 vols. Sydney: Angus, 1978–87. PR9611.2.R43 822′.009.

  • Vol. 1: The Making of Australian Drama from the 1830s to the Late 1960s. Rev. ed. 1978. 435 pp. (Rpt. of The Making of Australian Drama: A Historical and Critical Survey from the 1830s to the 1970s. 1973. 510 pp.)

  • Vol. 2: Australian Drama, 1970–1985. 1987. 400 pp. (Rev. of Australian Drama in the 1970s. 1978. 270 pp.)

A critical history of the development of Australian drama from the colonial period through 1985. Encompasses stage as well as radio and television plays by Australians, resident or not, and—in early chapters—about the country by foreign authors. The overall organization is chronological, with chapters devoted to types of plays, major authors, periods, movements, and topics. Among the various appendixes are, in vol. 1, a history of the Playwrights Advisory Board; in vol. 2, a chronology of selected plays published since 1936; chronological lists (by decade) of radio (since 1935) and television plays (since 1955) produced by the Australian Broadcasting Commission; and a discussion of Australian noncommercial theaters. Vol. 2 concludes with a selective bibliography. Each volume is indexed by persons, titles, and topics. Although frequently unreliable in factual matters and impressionistic in judgment, Rees’s work represents the fullest history of the country’s drama.

More accurate but less thorough in covering Australian drama is Love, Australian Stage (R4535).

Guides to Scholarship and Criticism

Day, Modern Australian Prose, 1901–1975 (R4530).


Guides to Primary Works

Webby, Elizabeth. Early Australian Poetry: An Annotated Bibliography of Original Poems Published in Australian Newspapers, Magazines, and Almanacks before 1850. Sydney: Hale, 1982. 332 pp. Z4008.P63 W42 [PR9610.4] 016.821.

A bibliography of original periodical verse. Entries are organized by Australian state, medium of publication, city, periodical, and then date of publication. A typical entry consists of title, author (if known) or pseudonym, date of publication, page, and a brief note on content. Indexed by poets and titles of newspapers, magazines, and almanacs. Webby is the essential source for identifying Australian periodical verse before 1850.

Guides to Scholarship and Criticism

There is no adequate guide to studies of Australian poetry. Herbert C. Jaffa, Modern Australian Poetry, 1920–1970: A Guide to Information Sources (Detroit: Gale, 1979; 241 pp.; Amer. Lit., English Lit., and World Lits. in English: An Information Guide Ser. 24)—which is not actually a guide to information sources—has too many omissions to serve even as a starting point. (For the multiple deficiencies of this work, see the review by Alan Lawson, Analytical and Enumerative Bibliography 5.2 [1981]: 130–34.)


Guides to Primary Works

Walsh, Kay, and Joy Hooton. Australian Autobiographical Narratives: An Annotated Bibliography. 2 vols. Canberra: Australia Scholarly Editions Centre, Australian Defence Force Acad., and Natl. Lib. of Australia, 1993–98. Z5303.A8 W35 [CT2802] 016.920094.

An annotated bibliography of published autobiographies that treat life in Australia to 1900 (vol. 1 covers the beginnings to 1850; vol. 2, 1850–1900). Listed alphabetically by author, entries cite publication information (variously the first edition or the most accessible one), include a summary of the Australian content, and conclude with the date span and, if possible, a citation to the Australian Dictionary of Biography (R4495). Three indexes: names; places; subjects. The generous summaries make Australian Autobiographical Narratives an important resource for studies of Australian culture and for autobiography as a genre.