Barbara Baynton (Portable Australian Authors)
UQP, $9.95 pb, 373 pp
None of the writers who emerged from the Australian bush has dealt as powerfully with its horror as Barbara Baynton, yet she is probably mainly known only for the two anthologised short stories, ‘Scrammy ’And’ and ‘Squeaker’s Mate’, the latter of which has been made into an excellent short film by David Baker.
The six tales in Bush Studies were reissued in paperback by Angus and Robertson in 1972, but her novel, Human Toll, has not been reprinted since its first publication in 1907. Now this new collection enables us to see her work as a whole.
As well as the stories from Bush Studies and the novel, this edition contains four later stories, a selection from her letters and non-fiction prose, eleven undistinguished poems, and a critical and biographical introduction by the editors, together with an extensive if select bibliography. The bibliography, incidentally, places ‘Squeaker’s Mate’ instead of ‘Scrammy ’And’ in the Murdoch and Drake-Brockman Australian Short Stories (OUP).