Margin, (Monash Australiana Research Group Informal Notes), is a literary / critical / historical / magazine which began in 1977 at Monash University under the editorship of Dennis Davison. Published annually to begin with, it increased to a bi-annual publication. Since the late 1980s there have been three issues per year.
As the founding editor of Margin, Dennis Davison was concerned with nineteenth-century Melbourne, covering topics such as literature, music, works in French and German, education, paintings, periodicals, viticulture and photography. Particular attention was given to French authors (who gave first-hand accounts in French of Colonial Australia) and Davison's own special interests in early theatre.
The first issue was published by Monash's English Department and was wholly devoted to the visit to Melbourne of Oscar Comettant, a French composer, writer, critic and journalist. After it became known in literary circles that the first issue of Margin had been published, requests for copies were received from all over Australia as well as France necessitating reprinting.
Margin's early issues were mainly biographical in nature, often featuring little-known authors, playwrights and singers. One of the features of each issue was the column 'Current Research', where writers and historians could share current projects and research. In later issues, this column became known as 'Notes and Queries'.
Dennis Davison edited Margin until his death in June 1994. Ian Laurenson edited no.34, 1994, which was a double issue honouring the memory of the founding editor. It was the last issue to appear in the format introduced by Davison. In April 1995 Victor Crittenden took over Margin's editorship beginning with issue no.35. He outlined a move in scope from nineteenth century to twentieth-century literature and writing. The magazine was given a sub-title 'Life and Letters in Early Australia' to indicate its wider coverage. The new editor was interested in locating portraits of early Australian writers and enlisted the help of Margin readers. ('Editorial' no.35 1995)
During his editorship, Crittenden, via his editorial columns, developed a rapport with his readers by keeping them informed about early Australian literature and requesting feedback. In his editorial of July-August 1996, he wrote '... I seem to detect a growing interest in nineteenth-century Australian literature. What with the increase in the number of biographies of nineteenth-century authors and the growing number of studies and collections there does seem to be a growing awareness of the importance of our heritage literature and not just the mainstream classics'.
There have been several 'special' issues of Margin. The first of these was published in 1981, commemorating 100 years since the death of Marcus Clarke. The second, also a tribute to Marcus Clarke, commemorated the 150th anniversary of his birth and appeared in 1996. The 150th anniversary of the birth of Catherine Martin was featured in the November 1997 issue.
Crittenden devoted the November 1998 issue to the 'French Connection' in Australian literature. He acknowledged the contribution by Davison in raising awareness of the influence of French explorers, writers and musicians on early Australian culture. ('Editorial', no.46 November 1998)
Margin also featured articles about authors such as: Louisa Atkinson, George Wathen, Fergus Hume, Rolf Boldrewood, Catherine Spence, Alec Hope, Rosa Praed and several of the little known bushranger poets such as Owen Suffolk.
Publication suspended indefinitely after no.82.