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G. B. Lancaster G. B. Lancaster i(A57112 works by) (birth name: Edith Joan Lyttleton)
Also writes as: Keron Hale
Born: Established: 18 Dec 1873 Campbell Town, Northern Midlands, Midlands, Tasmania, ; Died: Ceased: 10 Mar 1945 London,
United Kingdom (UK),
Western Europe, Europe,

Gender: Female
Expatriate assertion Departed from Australia: ca. 1880
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Edith Lyttleton, who wrote popular colonial fiction under the pseudonym G. B. Lancaster, was born at 'Clyne Vale', a sheep-farming property at Epping, near Campbell Town, south of Launceston. She was the oldest child of Westcote McNab Lyttleton and Emily Wood, who had married in January 1873. The family moved to New Zealand when Lyttleton was six years old to live at 'Rokeby', a sheep station south of Christchurch. Lyttleton left New Zealand for England in 1909. In the 1930s she returned to Tasmania, the place of her birth, but eventually moved back to England.

She wrote over a dozen novels and some 250 short stories, mostly narratives of romance and adventure set in the remote back country of New Zealand, Australia and Canada. She was New Zealand's most widely read author overseas in the first half of the twentieth century, reaching millions of readers. Her books headed bestseller lists in the United States for six months in 1933 and she was awarded the Australian Gold Medal for Literature in the same year. Writing first from 'Rokeby' despite fierce parental opposition, she later travelled widely researching her stories in the Yukon, Nova Scotia and Tasmania. She never married and, with her sister, devoted many years to the needs of her mother. Her middle age was peripatetic and lonely but produced the four phenomenally successful epic novels for which she was best known (From Terry Sturm's biography of Lancaster/Lyttleton, An Unsettled Spirit, 2003, q.v.).

Lyttleton's first five short stories were published in the New Zealand Illustrated Magazine under the name 'Keron Hale'. Many of her later stories appeared in the Sydney Bulletin and the Melbourne Australasian and also in international magazines. Most of her novels were published by prestigious British and American publishing houses, and some were translated into foreign languages.Three of them and several of her short stories were made into Hollywood silent films in the early 1920s. Dr Paul Wallace, a Canadian-born and educated authority on Pennsylvania history, was a close literary friend.

Most Referenced Works


  • Lancaster manuscripts are held in various North American libraries, see Albinski Australian Literary Manuscripts in North American Libraries (1997).

  • The Bulletin (13 June 1956, p.24) gives Lyttleton's year of birth incorrectly as 1874. Sturm has had access to several primary documents, including a baptism certificate and a Family Bible, that enable him to verify the correct date as 18 December 1873.

  • The July 1933 issue of The Home contains the following comment: 'Australians certainly don't believe in giving their authors undue publicity. It was left to a New York paper to devote a whole page of eulogy to Miss Lancaster's wonderful book on the early pastoral life of Tasmania which she has so aptly named Pageant. Nothing has been heard of it in Melbourne beyond the usual review.' (appears in the Melbourne 'Personal and Social' column)
  • The December 1933 issue of The Home includes a section reporting that 'Miss G. E. Lyttelton [sic] arrived in Sydney by the Mooltan and left a fortnight later for New Zealand, where she intends spending about two years with her people. Miss Lyttelton [sic] is the author of that outstanding book, Pageant, which she wrote under the name G. B. Lancaster.' The report includes an 'amusing' anecdote which relates how two women on a tram were overheard 'discussing Pageant and one announced that she was one of the few people who knew the real name of the author.' The lady accordingly confided her 'secret' to her companion, that the true identity of the pseudonymous writer, G. B. Lancaster, was Mary Gaunt (q.v.). (appears in the Sydney 'Personal and Social' column)
  • Filmography: Films adapted from Lancaster's novels and short stories:

    Source: Terry Sturm. An Unsettled Spirit (2003), pp. 277-278.

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon Pageant New York (City) : Century , 1933 Z256504 1933 single work novel
1933 winner ASAL Awards ALS Gold Medal

Known archival holdings

National Library of Australia (ACT)
Albinski 121-123
Last amended 27 Jan 2012 15:46:22
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