'Picnic at Hanging Rock fifty years on' by Marguerite Johnson

Everyone agreed that the day was just right for the picnic to Hanging Rock – a shimmering summer morning warm and still ...

Far from being a flimsy, frilly story for women full of antique charm and middle-class manners, Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock is a novel of sharp social observations and nuanced critique; subtle and sometimes latent sensuality; and layered, intricate allegory. The ‘shimmering summer morning warm and still’ brings the opposite to what it promises. Life is more complex and unstable in Lindsay’s world. Whoever would have thought that a picnic on Valentine’s Day 1900 would go so horribly wrong for the students and teachers of Appleyard College, or that the picnickers would return to the school with three senior girls and one teacher missing at Hanging Rock?

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Published in December 2017, no. 397
Marguerite Johnson

Marguerite Johnson

Marguerite Johnson is Professor of Classics at The University of Newcastle. She is a writer and academic specialising in the widespread influences of the ancient Mediterranean on post-antiquity. Her focus is on the reception of Greek and Roman cultures in colonial Australia, including literature and art. She also researches gender and sexualities in antiquity through to modernity, with a particular interest in twentieth and twenty-first century Australia. Marguerite is the author of several scholarly books, numerous articles and chapters, and has also published a series of short stories (one of which was awarded a Scarlet Stiletto). She is a regular contributor to The Conversation and the ABC.