y Overland periodical   assertion
Date: 1954-1988
Date: 1988-1992
Date: 1993-1996
Date: 1997-2002
Date: 2003-2004
Date: 2004-2007
Date: 2007-2015
Date: 2015-
Issue Details: First known date: 1954; Latest issue indexed: 2016 1954
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Latest Issues

y Overland Anti-/dis-/un-Australian Fiction Issue no. 222.5 Autumn Ben Walter (editor), 2016 9999396 2016 periodical issue
y Overland no. 224 Spring 2016 10396521 2016 periodical issue
y Overland no. 223 Winter 2016 9824864 2016 periodical issue
y Overland no. 219.5 23 June 2015 8676706 2015 periodical issue short story
y Overland no. 218.5 Autumn 2015 8666624 2015 periodical issue

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

In March 1952 Bill Wannan distributed the first roneoed copies of Realist Writer to the Melbourne Realist Writers' Group, an organisation sponsored by the Communist Party of Australia (CPA). Planned as a bulletin to share work within the group, Realist Writer sought to develop the genre of social realism in Australian literature. Beginning with the third issue, Stephen Murray-Smith accepted editorial responsibility, producing seven more issues before Realist Writer was incorporated into the first issue of Overland.

The first issue of Overland delared its motto, 'Temper democratic; Bias, Australian', adapting Joseph Furphy's description of Such is Life (1903). According to Murray-Smith, Overland sought to attract a 'mass audience' and he encouraged that audience to contribute to the development of the magazine. The first issue announced that Overland 'will aim high, but has no exclusive or academic standards of any kind. It will make a special point of developing writing talent in people of diverse background. We ask of our readers, however inexpert, that they write for us; that they share our love of living, our optimism, our belief in the traditional dream of a better Australia'. The selection of writing for publication eventually caused a break between Overland and the CPA in 1958. Murray-Smith's selection policy was primarily informed by aesthetic criteria rather than the ideological criteria promoted by the CPA. Unyielding pressure from the CPA to publish ideologically informed writing forced Murray-Smith to remove the magazine from its former sponsor and proceed independently.

According to Murray-Smith, up to 4,000 copies of Overland were regularly printed in its early years, but that number dropped after the break from the CPA. The circulation dropped further in the 1960s, remaining at around 2000 for several decades. Like most editors of small magazines, Murray-Smith was faced with the challenge of attracting funds for basic publishing costs. Extra contributions from subscribers were regularly acknowledged in the 'Floating Fund' column, a tradition that continues in 2003. Early attempts to win support from the Commonwealth Literary Fund were thwarted by selection committees unsympathetic to the magazine's communist origins. But, continuing financial support from the fund was eventually won in the early 1960s.

Murray-Smith continued as editor until his death in 1988. He was succeeded by the magazine's poetry editor, Barrett Reid, who continued in the position until first John McLaren and then Ian Syson completed their editorial terms in the 1990s. Syson was succeeded in 2003 by the former associate and assistant editors, Nathan Hollier and Katherine Wilson.

Early issues of Overland exhibit the influence of CPA ideology with short stories from writers such as Frank Hardy, Dorothy Hewett, Katharine Susannah Prichard and Judah Waten. After the break from the CPA, the magazine attracted contributions from a variety of writers, reflecting Murray-Smith's policy of selection according to merit, not ideology. Fiction in Overland during the 1960s and early 1970s included contributions from Xavier Herbert, Patrick White, Frank Moorhouse, Alan Marshall, Michael Wilding, Peter Cowan, Morris Lurie and Peter Carey. Later fiction includes contributions from Tim Winton, Elizabeth Jolley, David Foster, Murray Bail, Laurie Clancy, Janette Turner Hospital, Amy Witting and Marion Halligan.

Overland attracted a loyal group of poetry contributors in its first three decades. Contributors during the first decade of Overland such as Bruce Dawe, Judith Wright, Dorothy Hewett, Nancy Cato, Noel Macainsh, Chris Wallace-Crabbe and Thomas Shapcott continued to contribute poetry in the 1980s and 1990s. Later contributors include Graham Rowlands, Eric Beach, Robert Adamson, Geoff Goodfellow, Geoff Page, Laurie Duggan, Kate Lilley and Jennifer Maiden.

In both poetry and fiction Overland has shown an interest in overseas literature, particularly contemporary Chinese literature. While the contributions of poetry and fiction from this large groups of writers remained relatively strong, the value of some feature articles has occasionally been questioned by various commentators because of a perceived divergence from writing styles suitable for a general audience. At an editorial conference in 1978, Ian Turner, speaking of Overland, said, 'We have lost our popular audience; now it is rather the radical intelligentsia, say 35 years of age and older'. Echoes of this statement (not exclusively about Overland) appeared in the mid 1990s. In 1998, Duncan Richardson and Allan Gardiner complained in the pages of Overland about the trend towards academic articles unsuitable for the 'non-elite' reader, directing blame at magazines not readers for falling subscriptions.

Despite such criticism, Overland has maintained a strong reputation for investigating important social issues. Early volumes were dominated by articles on Australian literary figures and their works, but this was accompanied by articles on the bombing of Hiroshima, censorship of D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover and social conditions in Aboriginal communities and Papua New Guinea. Later volumes have included essays on international conflict, immigration, multiculturalism, the practice of literary criticism, Australian historiography, sport and cinema.

Proud of its history, the newest editors of Overland, Nathan Hollier and Katherine Wilson have revisited the editorial doctrine that Murray-Smith printed in the first issue. In their first editorial they echoed Murray-Smith's call for contributions, hoping to strengthen the connection with the Australian working-class forged in the first years of Overland.


  • RANGE: 1954-
  • FREQUENCY: Quarterly
  • SIZE: 24cm, 16-150pp
  • PRICE: one shilling (1954-55); one shilling sixpence (1956-57); two shillings sixpence (1957-62); four shillings (1963-65); fifty cents (1965-73); $1 (1974-76); $1.50 (1977); $2 (1978-80); $3 (1980-81); $4 (1982-86); $5 (1986-88); $6 (1989-90); $4.50 (1991); $4.95 (1992-94); $7.50 ((1994-95); $8 (1995-98); $10 (1998-99); $12 (2000-2002); $12.50 (2003)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

First known date: 1954
    • Overland , 1954-1988 .
      • Stephen Murray-Smith's editorial address was in Melbourne between 1954 and 1983, and Mt Eliza, Victoria, from 1983 until his death in 1988.

Works about this Work

Turning Pages Jane Sullivan , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: The Saturday Age , 28-29 May 2016; (p. 29)
Those Old Subversive Starvation Box Blues Joe Dolce , 2015 single work essay
— Appears in: Quadrant , October vol. 59 no. 10 2015; (p. 80-82)
Fancy Cuts Jennifer Mills , 2014 single work column
— Appears in: Overland , Autumn no. 214 2014; (p. 17)
Fancy Cuts : An Introduction Jennifer Mills , 2014 single work column
— Appears in: Overland , Spring no. 216 2014; (p. 33)
Stephen’s Vector Jim Davidson , 2014 single work essay
— Appears in: Overland , Spring no. 216 2014; (p. 91-97)
'Jim Davidson on Stephen Murray-Smith's progress to Overland.
Bias Australian John McLaren , 2014 single work essay
— Appears in: Overland , Summer no. 217 2014; (p. 86-93)
'The article offers information on the Australian journal "Overland" and its history. Topics include the personal and political path of Stephen Murray-Smith, the founder and first editor of the magazine, how the magazine maintains a democratic spirit through the publication of articles from ordinary people, and the commitment of the magazine to publish work with Australian origin.' (Publication abstract)
The Fine Art of Survival Nigel Featherstone , 2013 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 2 March 2013; (p. 6)
What's the Point of Literary Magazines? Jeff Sparrow , 2013 single work column
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 6 November 2013;
Getting a Words-Worth Jane Sullivan , 2013 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 7 December 2013; (p. 32)
'What are our literary magazines for? Are they the hallmarks of a thriving scene, or playgrounds for emerging writers? Robyn Annear has been posing these questions: and her answers, while more bemused than outright hostile, have made some editors and contributors pretty cross.'
Women's Work Clare Strahan , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: ACTWrite , June vol. 18 no. 5 2012; (p. 8-9)
Subscriberthon 2012 : Joel Ephraims on winning the Overland Poetry Prize Joel Ephraims , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: Overland [Online] , November 2012;
‘A Writer First and a Woman After’ : Overland Journal’s Women’s Work Bethanie Blanchard , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: Crikey , March 2012;
Imagining New Worlds Rjurik Davidson , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Overland , Autumn no. 202 2011; (p. 22-28)
The Overland CAL-Connections Program : Supporting Diversity in Critical Writing John Marnell , 2011 single work column
— Appears in: ACTWrite , June vol. 17 no. 5 2011; (p. 9)
John Marnell outlines Overland's CAL-Connections program. The program aims to support 'emerging writers from communities and backgrounds under-represented in literary publishing'.
Australian Literary Journals : Virtual and Social Benjamin Laird , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Cordite Poetry Review , December vol. 36 no. 2011;
'Twenty years ago, if you published a quarterly literary journal, you could be certain what that meant: four issues a year. In 2003, when Anna Hedigan wrote her overview of journals and their web presence not much had changed. The publishers' attitude to the online space was that it was essentially a placeholder for the print journal.

Genevieve Tucker's review four years later suggested many of the journals were becoming more sophisticated, with more content online and greater interest in design. Relevant to the 2007 review, RMIT publishing announced in September that it had partnered to "produce a comprehensive digital archive of Australia's most iconic literary and cultural journals". This initiative will provide full archives for a number of Australian literary journals.' (Author's introduction)
Meanland : The Internet - Friend or Foe to the Small Magazine Ali Alizadeh , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Overland [Online] , September 2011;
Alison Croggon : Overland and Me Alison Croggon , 2011 single work column
— Appears in: Overland [Online] , November 2011;
Benjamin Law : Overland and Me Benjamin Law , 2011 single work column
— Appears in: Overland [Online] , November 2011;
A Word From Anthony Loewenstein Antony Loewenstein , 2011 single work column
— Appears in: Overland [Online] , November 2011;
Kirsten Tranter : Overland and Me Kirsten Tranter , 2011 single work column
— Appears in: Overland [Online] , November 2011;
Magazines of the Left: Two Stayers and Two Hopefuls Bill Tully , 2004 single work review
— Appears in: Voice : A Journal of Comment and Review , June no. 10 2004; (p. 32-38)

— Review of Overland 1954 periodical (231 issues); Arena 1963 periodical (52 issues); Dissent 1961 periodical (18 issues)
Bill Tully takes a broad look at four periodicals: Overland, Arena, Dissent and the Socialist Alliance's Seeing Red. Although some attention is paid to specific 2004 issues of the periodicals, the review deals mostly in general terms and provides background information on the establishment of each journal.
Introduction Pamela Brown , 2002 single work column
— Appears in: Jacket , March no. 16 2002;
The Realist Writers Deirdre Moore , 1999 single work criticism
— Appears in: Overland , Spring no. 156 1999; (p. 24-29)
Bad Tempered Democrats, Biased Australians : Socialist Realism, Overland and the Australian Legend John McLaren , 2003 single work criticism
— Appears in: Frank Hardy and the Literature of Commitment 2003; (p. 53-69)
Editing the Neighbourhood Jim Davidson , 1989 single work column
— Appears in: Fremantle Arts Review , January vol. 4 no. 1 1989; (p. 10-11)
Fighter for Justice Really Packs a Punch Martin Flanagan , 2003 single work column biography
— Appears in: The Age , 3 November 2003; (p. 2)
Overland and Australian Culture Nathan Hollier , 2004 single work column
— Appears in: Overland , Autumn no. 174 2004; (p. 2-3)
Fifty Years of Overland Francis Oeser , 2004 single work correspondence
— Appears in: Overland , Autumn no. 174 2004; (p. 9)
Francis Oeser remembers his first introduction to Overland in the 1950s and his invitation by Stephen Murray-Smith to join the editorial advisory panel.
My Fifty Years with Overland Vane Lindesay , 2004 single work criticism
— Appears in: Overland , Autumn no. 174 2004; (p. 63-66)
The Mood We Are In : Circa Australia Day 2004 Barry Hill , 2004 single work essay
— Appears in: Overland , Autumn no. 174 2004; (p. 10-21)
Barry Hill explores Australian culture and national identity in the light of global terrorism and social change. The influence of Corporate America is felt by Australians who care about their country.
Voices from the Edge Karen Heinrich , 2004 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Age , 5 May 2004; (p. 2-3)
The joint editors of Overland, Nathan Hollier and Katherine Wilson, reflect on the role of Overland within the context of a changing Australian culture.
Paranoia, Surveillance and Literary Politics Ian Syson , 2004 single work criticism
— Appears in: Running Wild : Essays, Fictions and Memoirs Presented to Michael Wilding 2004; (p. 267-274)

Syson investigates the background to recent attempts by right-wing journalists, historians and intellectuals (mainly in Quadrant and the Courier-Mail) to discredit some former sympathisers with socialism and communism, such as Manning Clark and Henry Reynolds. This leads to a more general discussion of the representation of Australia's history, the role Quadrant, the CIA and the Australian Association for Cultural Freedom have played in it, and the continuing impact of the Cold War on Australian politics and culture.

Overland Ian Turner , 1959 single work correspondence
— Appears in: Prospect , vol. 2 no. 3 1959; (p. 22-23)
Australia's New Left Mark Jordan , 1960 single work review
— Appears in: Prospect , vol. 3 no. 3 1960; (p. 28)
This review of Alan Barcan's The Socialist Left in Australia 1949-1959 includes mention of the political leanings of literary magazines.
[Untitled] John McLaren , 1997 single work correspondence
— Appears in: Famous Reporter , June no. 15 1997; (p. 14-15)
Editorial Jeff Sparrow , 2008 single work column
— Appears in: Overland , Autumn no. 190 2008; (p. 2-3)
Jeff Sparrow announces Overland's decision to dedicate one 2009 issue of the journal to the publication 'of a new literary novel, delivered to subscribers as well as sold through the shops'.
y Mapping Literature Infrastructure in Australia Wenche Ommundsen , Michael Jacklin , Australia Council , 2008 Z1543466 2008 single work criticism

'Literature infrastructure' refers to the organisations within the literature sector that actively support writers and their work: state writers' centres, Varuna - The Writers' Centre, the Australian Society of Authors, literary journals, genre-based organisations, and writers' festivals.

The study aims to determine where each organisation sits in the 'supply chain' of support and what contribution it makes to the literature sector as a whole: what services and opportunities are offered to writers, how it contributes to the training and development of writers, whether it contributes to readership/audience development or community engagement, the extent of its national/international reach and how well it is served by its operational, financial and governance model.

The research also seeks to identify trends in the sector as well as gaps in the support currently available to Australian writers.

ERA and the Ranking of Australian Humanities Journals Paul Genoni , Gaby Haddow , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Humanities Review , May no. 46 2009;
'In Australian Humanities Review 45 Guy Redden draws upon his experience with the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in the UK to warn Australian researchers of various dangers posed by the implementation of similar methods of evaluation that may be introduced under the banner of Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA). Redden is concerned with the tendency of emerging forms of research evaluation to privilege a small number of 'high ranking' journals, and of the distorting effect this has on research communication as authors obsessively target these journals. This in turn results in research funding being concentrated on a small number of institutions and research units that are (predictably) assessed as high-achievers.'
From 'Barjai' to 'Overland' : a Note on Barrett Reid John Barnes , 1999 single work biography
— Appears in: The La Trobe Journal , Spring no. 64 1999; (p. 30-32)
Growing Content James Bradley , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Australian Literary Review , December vol. 4 no. 11 2009; (p. 24-25)
James Bradley tracks the history of some of Australia's best known literary magazines as well as some late twentieth and early twenty-first century offerings. He notes the growing online presence of these journals, suggesting that this presence 'contains a vision of the future of the literary magazine, one that is inextricably bound up in the development of devices such as the Kindle and Apple's as-yet-unseen e-reader'.
First Chapter in a Global Alliance Jason Steger , 2010 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 4 September 2010; (p. 28)
A column canvassing current literary news including a report on the establishment of a Word Alliance of literary festivals. The Melbourne Writers' Festival is one of the founding festivals in the Word Alliance; the others are Edinburgh, Beijing, Berlin and Toronto. Jason Steger also comments on the 200th edition of Overland.

PeriodicalNewspaper Details

ISSN: 0030-7416
Last amended 24 Jun 2015 10:07:43
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