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The Joseph Furphy Digital Archive
Roger Osborne, Editor
(Status : Public)
  • Joseph Furphy, farmer, bullock driver, mechanic and author

    Joseph Furphy was born at Yering, Victoria, in 1843, the son of Protestant Irish immigrants. Furphy was educated primarily by his mother from whom he inherited a love of literature. In 1867 he married Leonie Germaine with whom he attempted to work a selection in the Lake Cooper district. After selling the selection and purchasing a bullock team in 1873, Furphy moved to the Riverina in New South Wales and started a carting business. This business endured until the drought of 1883 drove Furphy bankrupt.

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  • A. G. Stephens, editor of the Bulletin Library, oversaw the publication of Such is Life

    A. G. Stephens was born and educated in Toowoomba, Queensland. After a typographical apprenticeship in the 1880s, he moved to Gympie where he took over the editorship of The Gympie Miner and was an active participant in local literary discussions. In 1890 he became the sub-editor and writer for the radical Boomerang in Brisbane, them joined the Cairns Argus in late 1891, eventually becoming part-owner. In late 1892 Stephens used funds from the sale of his interest in the Argus to travel through North America and Europe, sending articles on his travels to various Australian periodicals.

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  • Kate Baker, with William Cathels, was one of the earliest readers of the typescript version of Such is Life. In later life, she became one of the chief promoters of Furphy's literary legacy

    Kate Baker emigrated to Victoria with her family as a child and was educated at North Williamstown State High School. She became a teacher in 1881, and in 1886, while teaching at Wanalta Creek near Rushworth, she met Joseph Furphy. Furphy and Baker maintained a correspondence after the former returned to his home in Shepparton, and the friendship, support and faith in Furphy's abilities as a writer which Baker provided has been seen as crucial in sustaining Furphy through the writing of his great novel Such is Life.

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  • J. F. Archibald, founder of the Bulletin, to whom Furphy sent his original manuscript

    J. F. Archibald was born at Geelong, Victoria, and attended Catholic, National and private schools. At fourteen he began work as an apprentice printer. He later submitted articles to various newspapers, but he could not find stable work when, at eighteen, he moved to Melbourne. He worked for some time in the Victorian Education Department and later for a Queensland engineering firm, but, after spending some time in the Queensland goldfields, he returned to Sydney.

    In 1880 he founded the Bulletin with John Haynes, but they lost their ownership because of mounting debts and imprisonment for libel.

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  • Bulletin Newspaper Company published the first edition of Such is Life

    In addition to publishing the Bulletin, the Bulletin Newspaper Company engaged 'in the sporadic publication of many separate items ranging from important Australian novels to non-fiction books, magazines, ephemera and a series of postcards'.

    J. F. Archibald, editor of the Bulletin, initiated book publishing at the Bulletin Newspaper Company in 1888. From 1896 to 1906, it was under the charge of the newspaper's literary editor A. G. Stephens.

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  • Robert Ross, editor of the Broken Hill weekly newspaper, the Barrier Truth, published the serial version of Rigby's Romance from 27 October 1905 to 20 July 1906

    image of person or book cover
    Robert Samuel Ross image courtesy of the NLA

    Robert Samuel Ross was born in Sydney, the son of a compositor. After moving to Brisbane where his father edited a newspaper, he completed his education there and worked as a messenger boy before being apprenticed as a compositor. With ink in his blood, he was editing his own sports newspapers by the time he was twenty.

    Ross was a devoted unionist, working for the cause as a journalist, public speaker and agitator. He was a founding member of the Queensland Socialist League in 1894 and the Socialist Democratic Vanguard in 1900.

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  • C J De Garis, publisher of the abridged Rigby's Romance (1922)

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    Source: Australian Variety Theatre Archive

    Librettist, farmer, businessman, land developer, publicist, publisher, author, aviator.

    Clement John De Garis was the eldest son of Mildura (Victoria) businessman Elisha De Garis. He was exempted from school at a very early age in order to help out with his father's struggling business, and by fourteen had saved enough money to pay his own fees for two years at Melbourne's Wesley College. At age seventeen, he returned to his family's business and was instructed to maintain the current sales figures.

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  • Vance Palmer wrote introductions for the 1917 re-issue and the abridged English edition of Such is Life (1937)

    Vance Palmer was born in Bundaberg, Queensland. He was educated at several schools at which his father was schoolmaster and at Ipswich Grammar School. An interest in literature, instilled by his father, was temporarily replaced by a passion for sport at Ipswich. But a recurring desire to become a writer saw him leave for England in 1905. After little literary success, Palmer returned to Australia in 1907 via Finland, Russia, Siberia and Japan and worked for a time as tutor on a remote Queensland property.

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  • Nettie Palmer did much of the editorial work for the abridged English edition of Such is Life (1937)

    Nettie Palmer was born Janet Gertrude Higgins in Bendigo, Victoria and was schooled at the Presbyterian Ladies' College. After taking a BA and diploma in education from the University of Melbourne, she travelled to England and continued her studies in French and German. She returned to Melbourne and completed an MA in 1912. In 1914 she returned to England and married Vance Palmer (q.v.), beginning one of Australia's most important literary partnerships.

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  • Aileen Palmer helped with the abridged English edition of Such is Life (1937)

    Aileen Palmer, the eldest daughter of writers Vance and Nettie Palmer, was born in London shortly before her parents returned to Australia. She grew up at Gembrook outside Melbourne and spent long periods at Caloundra on the Queensland coast. Nettie Palmer taught her daughter at home for the first few years and found she had a facility with languages, learning French, German and Latin.

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  • C Hartley Grattan, one of America's chief advocates for Australian literature, wrote the afterword to the 1948 American edition of Such is Life

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    C. Hartley Grattan, image courtesy of Mitchell Library on Wikimedia Commons

    Clinton Hartley Grattan was born at Wakefield, Massachussetts, United States of America. After receiving a degree from Clark University, Worcester, Grattan moved to New York in 1925 to begin a career in journalism. Grattan visited Australia in 1927, accompanying his actress wife who was performing in a musical. This visit inspired him to learn more about Australian literature. The resulting volume, Australian Literature (1929), was one of the first attempts to analyse the unique Australian character of nineteenth and twentieth century Australian literature.

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