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Date: 2000-
Date: 1989-1993
Date: 1988-1999
Date: 1963-1987
Date: 1962
Date: 1956-1961
Date: 1945-1955
Date: 1939-1944
Issue Details: First known date: 1939... 1939 Southerly
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Volume 1, Issue 1 (1939) - onwards (Comprehensive)

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Founded in 1923 as a branch of the London-based English Association, the Sydney branch of the English Association (known until 1944 as the Australian English Association) pursued the primary objective of preserving the purity of English in both written and spoken forms. In 1936, a four-page 'Bulletin' was produced to promote these objectives. This format was expanded three years later to include articles, reviews, and news about the association in a 40-page journal called Southerly. The title was designed to suggest the relation that the journal had with English literary traditions. It also evoked the refreshing winds of Sydney's 'southerly buster' that sometimes develop into a destructive natural force. The significance of the title was augmented when the now familiar Hugh McCrae (q.v.) sketch of Auster, spirit of the South Wind, was first displayed as a motif in 1946.

R. G. Howarth (q.v.), a lecturer in English at the University of Sydney and one of the leading proponents of the journal, was appointed founding editor, a position he held until 1955. The first volumes of Southerly were completely funded by the Australian English Association. The editors and contributors worked in an honorary capacity, but the costs of production remained a financial burden. This burden was relieved in 1944 when the publishing company Angus & Robertson agreed to take responsibility for the cost and management of publication and distribution. Two years later they also took responsibility for printing Southerly at their Halstead Press, an arrangement that continued until the early 1960s. The English Association received further financial relief in 1952 when it was awarded the first of its ongoing literary grants from the Australian government.

Howarth's editorial policy delivered articles and reviews on both Australian and overseas literature, but this policy drew criticism from members of the Jindyworobak movement for its lack of focus on the local product. Howarth defended his editorial policy in the November issue of 1941, stating that he wished the journal to avoid regionalism or parochialism, thus 'maintaining the cultural good relations that have hitherto subsisted between the mother and the daughter countries.' In time, this policy became less stringent as Australian literature became more widely accepted as a serious field of study.

The physical size of Southerly changed several times during its lifetime, and the number of pages devoted to Australian literature steadily increased from the 40-page issues of the 1940s to regular issues of more than 200 pages in the 1990s. The influence of Howarth's early editorial policies lingered into the 1970s. During the 1940s it was not unusual to see articles on Australian literature beside articles on European poetry and fiction. In 1950, one issue printed the poems of a number of contemporary English poets, but during the 1950s the number of articles on non-Australian subjects gradually decreased. By 1963 readers could expect a strong concentration on Australian writing in major articles by academic writers. But the 'Books Received' column continued to announce the arrival of British and European books, and reviews of such books were common until 1973.

When Howarth left Australia in 1956 for an academic position in South Africa, Southerly was set to change its focus and format. Kenneth Slessor (q.v.) was appointed the second editor of Southerly and responded immediately to its flagging reputation. The critic and literary historian H. M. Green (q.v.) had recently described the journal as 'dull' and 'unadventurous'. To address this, Slessor implemented a number of changes to the format and content, bringing a less academic tone to the journal by inviting contributions from his journalist colleagues and high-profile figures such as the Prime Minister Robert Menzies (q.v.). Most significantly, he added the sub-title 'A Review of Australian Literature', signalling an intention to break from Howarth's early editorial policy.

The support from Angus & Robertson ceased during Slessor's term as editor because of the publisher's reluctance to continue providing labour and equipment at the Halstead Press for no charge. Slessor resigned in frustration after consistent delays and the subsequent absence of issues for 1960. Walter Stone (q.v.) acted as editor following Slessor's departure, printing Southerly at his Wentworth Press, and later taking responsibility for subscriptions and distribution. During the 1970s, the English Association accepted more control of the publishing activities of Southerly, assuming full managerial responsibility after 1985. As in its foundation years, the journal survived the financial difficulties of these transitions with much unpaid labour by members of the English Association.

In 1963, G. A. Wilkes (q.v.) began his long term as editor of Southerly, presiding over a period that saw continued change in the study of Australian literature. The foundation professor of Australian literature at Sydney University, Wilkes broadened the scope of the journal by seeking contributors outside of the Sydney circle of writers employed by Howarth and Slessor. Assisted by the growing university system, this new editorial approach stimulated academic criticism of Australian literature and enabled junior academics to achieve wider exposure. In addition to the development of criticism, Southerly continued to attract contributions of fiction and poetry from some of Australia's best writers. After G. A. Wilkes' retirement in 1987, Elizabeth Webby (q.v.), Professor of Australian literature at Sydney University, edited Southerly until 1999.

In 2000, Southerly renewed its association with the Halstead Press which once again accepted responsibility for subscriptions, publication and distribution. This arrangement allowed the new editors, Noel Rowe (q.v.) and David Brooks (q.v.), to concentrate on the planning and contents of each issue, beginning a new phase in the journal's ongoing contribution to the study of Australian literature.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Works about this Work

Letter to David Brooks Geoff Page , 2018 single work correspondence
— Appears in: Long Paddock , vol. 78 no. 1 2018;

'Dear David

'As someone who grew up on a cattle station and still (very occasionally) eats red meat, I’ve been reading your article, ‘The Fallacies”, in the latest Southerly with considerable interest.' (Introduction)

Australian Literary Journals : Virtual and Social Benjamin Laird , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Cordite Poetry Review , December vol. 36 no. 2011;
'Twenty years ago, if you published a quarterly literary journal, you could be certain what that meant: four issues a year. In 2003, when Anna Hedigan wrote her overview of journals and their web presence not much had changed. The publishers' attitude to the online space was that it was essentially a placeholder for the print journal.

Genevieve Tucker's review four years later suggested many of the journals were becoming more sophisticated, with more content online and greater interest in design. Relevant to the 2007 review, RMIT publishing announced in September that it had partnered to "produce a comprehensive digital archive of Australia's most iconic literary and cultural journals". This initiative will provide full archives for a number of Australian literary journals.' (Author's introduction)
Growing Content James Bradley , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Australian Literary Review , December vol. 4 no. 11 2009; (p. 24-25)
James Bradley tracks the history of some of Australia's best known literary magazines as well as some late twentieth and early twenty-first century offerings. He notes the growing online presence of these journals, suggesting that this presence 'contains a vision of the future of the literary magazine, one that is inextricably bound up in the development of devices such as the Kindle and Apple's as-yet-unseen e-reader'.
ERA and the Ranking of Australian Humanities Journals Paul Genoni , Gaby Haddow , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Humanities Review , May no. 46 2009;
'In Australian Humanities Review 45 Guy Redden draws upon his experience with the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in the UK to warn Australian researchers of various dangers posed by the implementation of similar methods of evaluation that may be introduced under the banner of Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA). Redden is concerned with the tendency of emerging forms of research evaluation to privilege a small number of 'high ranking' journals, and of the distorting effect this has on research communication as authors obsessively target these journals. This in turn results in research funding being concentrated on a small number of institutions and research units that are (predictably) assessed as high-achievers.'
Editorials Debra Adelaide , 2008 single work obituary (for Pat Skinner )
— Appears in: Southerly , vol. 68 no. 2 2008; (p. 5-7)
Steady Southerly -- No Buster P. F. Rowland , 1944 single work review
— Appears in: Meanjin Papers , Summer vol. 3 no. 3 1944; (p. 196-197)

— Review of Southerly vol. 5 no. 1 1944 periodical issue ; Southerly vol. 5 no. 2 September 1944 periodical issue ; Southerly 1939 periodical (291 issues)
A Barometer of Our Literary Life Helen Garlick , 1989 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , November no. 116 1989; (p. 39)

— Review of Southerly 1939 periodical (291 issues); Blast L. K. Holt , 1987 periodical (56 issues); Island Magazine 1981 periodical (32 issues)
Bookshow 2004 Report : Whither the Australian Literary Magazine? Mark Rossiter , 2004-2005 single work column
— Appears in: Newswrite : The NSW Writers' Centre Magazine , December - January no. 143 2004-2005; (p. 11)
Mark Rossiter reports on the session 'Literary Magazines: the traditional entry point to writing' which was part of the 6th Australian Publishers & Authors Bookshow at the NSW Writers' Centre.
Periodicals and the School : Important Adjunct to the Library 1947 single work extract
— Appears in: The Australasian Book News and Literary Journal , September vol. 2 no. 3 1947; (p. 157)
[Untitled] Elizabeth Webby , 1997 single work correspondence
— Appears in: Famous Reporter , June no. 15 1997; (p. 13)
Gentlemen's Agreements : 'Southerly's' First Editors Susan Sheridan , 2007 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , vol. 67 no. 1-2 2007; (p. 333-347)
Professing Australian Literature : The Webby Way Margaret Harris , 2007 single work biography
— Appears in: Southerly , vol. 67 no. 1-2 2007; (p. 8-13)
Margaret Harris reflects on Elizabeth Webby's career and her retirement from the Chair of Australian Literature at the University of Sydney.

PeriodicalNewspaper Details

Three nos. per year (1939-1943); Quarterly (1944-1999); Three nos. per year (2000- )
From 2007 Supplementary material published online in Long Paddock.
22.5 cm (1941-1959); 20.5 cm (1961-1990); 19 cm (1991-1999); 22.5cm (2000- )
From the original price of one shilling and sixpence per copy, the price of Southerly rose to three shillings and sixpence by 1950; five shillings by 1960; seventy-five cents (after conversion of Australian currency in 1965) by 1970; $2.50 by 1980; $8.00 by 1990; and $21.95 in 2000.
Guest Editors identified on records for individual issues
Special editions of Southerly have individual titles.
Last amended 11 Nov 2010 12:22:59
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