Anna Johnston: The Paper War

Archival riches

Grace Karskens


The Paper War: Morality, Print Culture, and Power in Colonial New South Wales
by Anna Johnston
UWA Publishing, $39.95 pb, 299 pp, 9781921401541


‘A MISSIONARY ARRESTED! A LONDON MISSIONARY ARRESTED!!’ These alarming words were trumpeted in the Sydney Gazette in 1828, and they shout from the back cover of Anna Johnston’s The Paper War. Readers might be forgiven for assuming that this book is about scandals in early colonial Australia – all the more entertaining for involving clergymen. And in a way it is, for the man arrested, Reverend Lancelot Threlkeld, is the book’s central character. His endless battles with his peers and superiors via the printed, written, and spoken word are a major focus of this book.

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Published in October 2011, no. 335
Grace Karskens

Grace Karskens

Grace Karskens is Professor of History at the University of New South Wales. She is a leading authority on early colonial Australia and also works in cross-cultural and environmental history. Grace began her career as a public historian and has a lifelong commitment to bringing good history to wide audiences. She is an active contributor to several significant cultural organisations, including Sydney Living Museums, the State Library of New South Wales, and the Dictionary of Sydney project. Her books include Inside the Rocks: The archaeology of a neighbourhood and the multi-award winning The Rocks: Life in early Sydney. Her book The Colony: A history of early Sydney won the 2010 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction and the US Urban History Association’s prize for Best Book 2010. Her next book, People of the River: Lost worlds of early Australia, will be published by Allen & Unwin in 2020.