'Colonial Australia produced a vast number of journals and magazines that helped to create an exuberant literary landscape. They were filled with lively contributions by many of the key writers and provocateurs of the day - and of the future. Important Australian writers such as Marcus Clarke, Rolf Boldrewood, Ethel Turner and Katharine Susannah Prichard published for the first time in these journals. In The Colonial Journals, Ken Gelder and Rachael Weaver present a fascinating selection of material: a miscellany of content that enabled the 'free play of intellect' to thrive and, matched with wry visual design, made attractive artifacts that demonstrate the role this period played in the growth of an Australian literary culture.' (Publication blurb)
This work is an introduction to the book. It also provides detailed information on individual colonial journals.
‘The colonial journals committed themselves to publishing Australian poetry and fiction right from the beginning. Even journals with only an incidental interest in literature would publish at least the occasional Australian verse – partly because poetry could be so overtly declarative, able to give strident expression to the ideological imperatives that a journal stood for. H.M. Green described the first colonial Australian journal - Ralph Mansfield’s Australian Magazine; or Compendium of Religious, Literary, and Miscellaneous Intelligence – as follows: ‘most of its subjects have no connection with the colony, but there is an article on the platypus, and Australian subjects are sprinkled through the Religious and Miscellaneous sections. There are the usual negligible local verses…’ This last remark is interesting, because it suggests that colonial poetry – ‘negligible’ as it may sometimes be – is about the only thing that properly connects this early journal to its colonial context. We want to go against the grain of Green’s off-hand account by beginning this section with Barron Field’s ‘On Seeing the Bible Society’s Map of the World’, published in the Australian Magazine in September 1821. Arriving n New South Wales in 1817, Field went on to become a colonial magistrate, a founder of the Society for Promoting Christian knowledge among Aborigines, a supporter of public schooling, and the first president of the New South Wales Savings Bank. His First Fruits of Australian Poetry was published in 1819 by George Howe and reprinted (in expanded form) in 1823 by Robert Howe – the two proprietors of the Australian Magazine. Neither ‘negligible’ nor ‘local’, Field’s poem is in fact foundational, which is why we reproduce it here. It pays tribute to the global responsibilities of the British empire as it spreads its influence across its ‘dominions’, including Australia. But the emphasis is no longer on military conquest; rather, it is on the roles played by education and the Christian missions –which literature (‘Bookmen and penmen’) is now called upon to serve.’ (Authors introduction : 152)
‘The Australian girl became visible as a type early on in colonial print culture, occasionally invoked in ladies’ columns and popular romances in the 1860s and 1870s. By the mid-1870s, the Australian Town and Country Journal began to invest in the type as a way of valorising the distinctive traits of colonial Australian women. In 1874 it serialised T.A. Brown’s novel Incidents and Adventures of My Run Home, in which a protagonist named ‘Rolf Boldrewood’ sings the praises of Australian girls to his English companions. Paul de Serville notes that through this character, Browne created ‘an energetic, patriotic squatter of educated literary tastes…[who] could carry the good name of Australia in the motherland with credit, Browne, of course, went on to adopt ‘Rolf Boldrewood’ as his pen name. Celebrating the virtues of the Australian girl abroad soon became part of the colonial project of nation building; and as Angela Woollacott suggests, the Australian girl was often promoted ‘at the expense of her discursive foil ‘the English girl. In September 1888, the Australian Town and Country Journal celebrated the centenary of the colonies by publishing Ethel Castilla’s now-famous short poem, ‘The Australian Girl’, an early attempt to define this type’s essential qualities and measure them against her English counterpart. This part begins with an extract from the Australian Woman’s Magazine and Domestic Journal (April 1882-September 1884), which had serialised Janet Carroll’s novel Magna : An Australian Girl in 1882 – the first novel, in fact, to bear the title of the character type. The Australian girl is a projection, an ideal. But the Australian Woman’s Magazine also reminds us that she emerges out of real conditions, which means thinking about the sorts of opportunities local colonial life can offer women in terms of education and employment. In ‘Woman’s Work’, ‘Vaga’ cautions colonial women against frivolity but keeps her counsel rather vague; here, ‘work’ has more to do with nurture and duty, especially towards the husband. As in so much commentary on the Australian girl, matrimony is her taken-for-granted destination.’ (Authors introduction)