The Melbourne Realist Writers Group (RWG), established in 1944, sought to build a working-class culture of readers and writers by encouraging those of the working class to write of their experiences. Closely associated with the Communist Party, the group was informed by the social-realist formula promoted by Zhdanov, head of the Soviet Writer's Union. The RWG employed a ready-made critical methodology to assess the work produced within the group, preferring accurate description of conditions in simple language rather than symbolic narratives in a prose style inaccessible to the ordinary reader.
To support the goals of the RWG, the Realist Writer was established in 1952. Essentially an in-house bulletin, the Realist Writer enabled members to more readily view each others work. In addition, it provided space for polemical statements about Communism and guidance for the practice of social realism.Contributors included David Martin, Frank Hardy, Laurence Collinson, John Manifold, Eric Lambert and Katharine Susannah Prichard.
Realist Writer ran for nine issues as a foolscap-sized roneo copy. Edited first by Bill Wannan, then Stephen Murray-Smith, it was eventually incorporated into the first issue of Overland. Overland split with the Communist Party in 1956, partly because Stephen Murray-Smith rejected ideologically based assessment, preferring to accept contributions on literary merit alone. This left the RWG without a publication until Realist Writer was revived in 1958.