Paul Brunton

The twenty or so elegant Georgian buildings designed by Francis Greenway that stand in Sydney today are a civilising presence. Yet these represent less than a quarter of his output. The destruction has been wanton and impoverishing.

Greenway was born in November 1777, near Bristol. His ...

While the Billy Boils by Henry Lawson & Biography of a Book by Paul Eggert

by
September 2013, no. 354

It is not often that a truly ground-breaking work appears, publishers’ hype notwithstanding. Paul Eggert has produced two such works in the one year, which must be a record. Both relate to Henry Lawson (1867–1922), arguably the most famous Australian writer of all time.

...

My Brilliant Career, the book Miles Franklin published in 1901 when she was twenty-one, cast a shadow over her entire life. It sold well and made her famous for a time, but it did not lead to the publication of more works. The glittering literary career foretold by the critics did not eventuate, at least in Franklin’s opinion. ‘The thing that puzzles me,’ she wrote to Mary Fullerton on New Year’s Day, 1929, ‘is how are we to know whether we are a dud or not at the beginning; I mean how long should a poor creature smitten with the egotism that he can write, keep on in face of rebuffs’.

... (read more)

The final volume of the diaries of Donald Friend covers the years from 1966, when he was fifty-one, to 1988, the year before his death. For a little over half this period (represented by more than two thirds of the diary entries), Friend lived in Bali. He did so in some splendour, waited on by a retinue of houseboys and visited by the distinguished and the celebrated. This was before mass tourism. There are extensive descriptions of Balinese life – the people, their customs, the religious festivals – and of the ancient monuments. These are of interest, but there is little of Friend in them. He could have been writing a travelogue. There is much on his collecting expeditions for Balinese artefacts, his property developments and his problems with thieves. It is not the quotidian nature of these activities which is the problem. A skilful diarist allows us to see the mundane afresh, through his or her peculiar lens. Here, again, Friend seems to have gone missing.

... (read more)

This volume is the fourth and last dealing with Australian writing in this American series of reference books. All four volumes have been edited by Selina Samuels; the editor and contributors are Australian. Fifty-seven writers who produced their first major work after 1975 are included.

... (read more)