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y separately published work icon The Bulletin periodical  
Date: 2006-2008
Date: 2002-2006 Note: December 10 2002 to August 8 2006
Date: 2002 Note: October 29 2002 to December 3 2002
Date: 2001-2002 Note: April 17 2001 to October 22 2002
Date: 1998-2001 Note: September 22 1998 to April 10 2001
Date: 1995-1998 Note: September 26 1995 to September 15 1998
Date: 1991 Note: May 8 1990 to October 1, 1991
Date: 1991-1995 Note: October 8 1991 to September 19 1995
Date: 1972-1991
Date: 1967-1972
Date: 1964-1967
Date: 1962-1964
Date: 1961-1962
Date: 1948-1961
Date: 1933-1948
Date: 1915-1933
Date: 1903-1915
Date: 1886-1903
Date: 1881-1886
Date: 1880-1881
Issue Details: First known date: 1880... 1880 The Bulletin
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

In 1880, when J. F. Archibald and John Haynes published the first issue of the Bulletin, weekly newspapers were flourishing in Sydney. But, unable to compete in this market, and facing a libel suit, the Bulletin struggled financially. When Archibald and Haynes were jailed in 1881 for libel, W. H. Traill (who had written the libellous article) took over a Bulletin which had become more widely known because of the court case. After Archibald and Haynes were released from prison, Traill employed them and allowed them to buy shares in the business. By 1886 Archibald had obtained a half share of the Bulletin and was once again in the editor's chair.

The early years of the Bulletin brought Traill a considerable profit, but literary reputation would be made later. The content of the early Bulletin was a mix of political comment and sensational news with several unfinished serials and narrative poems, although a few contributions from Adam Lindsay Gordon and Henry Kendall suggest some quality. When Traill secured the services of cartoonists Livingston Hopkins and Phil May, and when a young poet called 'The Banjo' appeared at the end of Traill's term, the period marking the Bulletin's major contribution to Australian culture had begun.

The 1890s are widely regarded as a literary renaissance in Australia. During this decade, the Bulletin played a significant part in the encouragement and circulation of nationalist sentiments that remained influential far into the next century. Writers and illustrators were encouraged to present the 'real' Australia in verse and short sketches with a particular emphasis on the bush, espousing such values as egalitarianism, republicanism and national pride. Much more fiction and verse appeared in the Bulletin during the 1890s than the previous decade and the number of cartoons increased significantly. With his statements on federation, republicanism, socialism and immigration, the financial editor James Edmond contributed a strong voice to political debates that he would continue as editor during the early 1900s.

Most significantly, the Bulletin became a site where many of Australia's best-known writers achieved their first publication and developed their writing skills for a large audience. These included Barcroft Boake, Breaker Morant, Will Ogilvie, E. J. Brady, Ethel Turner, Roderic Quinn, Louise Mack, Victor Daley, Price Warung, Louis Becke, Randolph Bedford, Barbara Baynton and 'Steele Rudd'. The verse and short stories of A. B. 'Banjo' Paterson and Henry Lawson often featured in the Bulletin and these two writers initiated the 'Bulletin debate' on the real nature of Australian life, a debate which involved many other writers, including John le Gay Brereton, Francis Kenna, Edward Dyson, A. G. Stephens, Henry Cargill, Joseph Furphy and James Brunton Stephens.

A. G. Stephens joined the Bulletin in 1894, beginning a career which is widely regarded as one of the most significant in Australian literary history. After developing a column progessively called 'Books of the Day' and 'The Bulletin Book Exchange', Stephens took over the inside of the red cover of the Bulletin for his influential 'Red Page'. Here he delivered his opinions on literature with an international scope, but also with a distinct nationalism that encouraged and assessed the new national literature appearing in the Bulletin and elsewhere. From 1897, he directed the publishing arm of the Bulletin and assisted many writers into print for the first time. His editorship secured such publications as Steele Rudd's On Our Selection (1899), Joseph Furphy's Such is Life (1903), and a series of Bulletin anthologies.

Early in the 1900s Archibald suffered a breakdown and was committed to an asylum by his business manager William Macleod. He was replaced by James Edmond, who had joined the Bulletin in 1886: Edmond became editor in 1903, and retained the position until 1915. Under Edmond's editorship, the nationalistic banner 'Australia for the Australians' was replaced with the more isolationist 'Australia for the White Man': the banner changed in 1907, four years after Archibald's departure, and remained remained intact for over fifty years, last appearing in the issue for 30 November 1960 and quietly disappearing thereafter. While the Bulletin is celebrated for its contribution to Australian literature, it has not escaped criticism for implicit and explicit racism. Chinese people, in particular, were often targets for racist slurs in the Bulletin and Aboriginal Australians were frequently portrayed negatively.

The earlier literary renaissance had subsided by 1903, but many of the older Bulletin writers continued to contribute, maintaining the old character of the weekly. A. G. Stephens left in 1906 to start his own journal, the Bookfellow, taking several of his writers with him, including John Shaw Neilson whom Stephens had discovered and nurtured for several years. Archibald had recovered from his breakdown and assisted with the foundation of the Bulletin-sponsored magazine Lone Hand, providing more space for aspiring writers to place their work. Writers who made their first contributions to the Bulletin during this period included C. J. Dennis, Dorothea Mackellar, David McKee Wright, Mary Gilmore, Louis Esson, Hugh McCrae and Jack McLaren. In addition to the writers of the Bulletin, the quality of illustration expanded with contributions from Norman Lindsay, Lionel Lindsay, Will Dyson, Ambrose Dyson, David Low, D. H. Souter, Alf Vincent, Frank Mahony, George Lambert, Percy Leason and Ted Scorefield.

When James Edmond became editor in 1903, S. H. Prior took his place as finance editor. By 1912 Prior was assistant editor and he ascended to the editor's chair after Edmond's retirement in 1915. Archibald had sold Prior his shares to the Bulletin in 1914 and when Prior accepted the duties of managing director after Macleod's retirement in 1927, he attained financial control of the company, a control that he and his family retained until 1960.

During Prior's term as editor, the bush had less influence on the character of the Bulletin and the suburbs became more and more a theme for articles, stories and cartoons. The 'Red Page' editor David McKee Wright (1916-1928) played a significant part in this by asserting that the earlier rural orientation of the Bulletin had lost its power. Inspired by late-Victorian and light Edwardian verse, he encouraged writers to concentrate on metropolitan topics. Younger writers who contributed to the 'Red Page' at this time included Kenneth Slessor, Robert D. FitzGerald, Brian Penton, Zora Cross, Elizabeth Riddell, Alice Jackson and Jack Lindsay. In addition, Vance Palmer, Nettie Palmer and Louis Esson contributed many reviews.

In the late 1920s Prior encouraged Australian writing with a novel contest, attracting 536 manuscripts in 1928 and 275 manuscripts in 1929. Winners in these competions included Marjorie Barnard and Flora Eldershaw for A House is Built, Katharine Susannah Prichard for Coonardoo and Vance Palmer for The Passage.

When S. H. Prior died in 1933, John Webb, a Bulletin employee since 1920, was appointed editor. Holding this position until 1948, Webb reinforced the White Australia policy introduced by James Edmond and asserted an anti-Labor stance despite having little respect for the conservative alternative. David Adams replaced Webb in 1948 and guided the Bulletin through to 1961, a period where the reputation and circulation of the paper steadily declined. The success of the Australian Woman's Mirror (a Bulletin stable-mate) during the 1930s and 1940s helped to keep the Bulletin afloat, but the success of the rival Australian Women's Weekly took many of the Mirror's readers and the Bulletin suffered, providing its shareholders little to no return by the late 1950s.

The literary content during this period increased significantly due to the influence of Douglas Stewart who served as 'Red Page' editor between 1940 and 1961. Influenced by Norman Lindsay, Stewart maintained a strong anti-modernist editorial policy which helped to extend Bulletin traditions throughout his term. Except for notable exceptions A.D. Hope and John Manifold who openly refused to publish in the Bulletin, many significant poets appeared under Stewart's editorship. These included Douglas Stewart, Judith Wright, David Campbell, Geoffrey Dutton, Rosemary Dobson, Francis Webb, Nancy Keesing, R. D. FitzGerald, James McAuley, Ray Mathew, David Rowbotham, Nancy Cato, Will Lawson, Roderic Quinn, Roland Robinson, Mary Finnin, E. J. Brady and Vivian Smith. The Bulletin continued to support short fiction, publishing many stories from writers such as Brian James, Kylie Tennant, Henrietta Drake-Brockman, Eleanor Dark, Vance Palmer and Hal Porter. The S. H. Prior Memorial Prize for fiction was awarded between 1935 and 1946.

The prominent literary character of the Bulletin ended in 1961 when it was bought by Consolidated Press and merged with the Observer. Seen by many as outdated, the Bulletin eventually shifted to the news format that continued until its demise in 2008. Archibald himself predicted that the 'clever youth' he had fostered would eventually 'become a dull old man'. As the new editor, one of Donald Horne's first actions was to remove 'Australia for the White Man' from the banner, signalling a change in character which included a greater interest in the Asia-Pacific region and support for immigration reform.

The 'Red Page' gradually changed into a standard book section following Stewart's departure. But, despite this change, many significant writers appeared in the Bulletin during the 1960s and 1970s, particularly fiction writers such as Xavier Herbert, Thomas Keneally, Craig McGregor, Hal Porter, Desmond O'Grady and Frank Moorhouse. The transitional period of the new Bulletin is also remembered for a controversial acrostic poem pseudonymously contributed by Gwen Harwood. Many of the writers who had appeared in the Bulletin since 1880 were celebrated in a 1980 centennial issue. In response to the positive reception of this section a quarterly literary supplement was edited by Geoffrey Dutton, continuing until 1985. But, except for these years, the Bulletin made little contribution to Australian literature after 1961.

In late 2007 James Packer sold his family's media assets, including Australian Consolidated Press, to the private equity firm CVC Asia Pacific. Four months later, CVC announced that the Bulletin would cease publication. The last issue, with a cover story titled 'Why We Love Australia', was published on 23 January 2008 and dated 29 January 2008. Fittingly, it included essays on Australia's national identity by prominent writers Richard Flanagan, Tom Keneally and Frank Moorhouse.


  • The Bulletin Christmas editions : Special Christmas editions of the Bulletin were published each year between 1886 and 1961 (see below for exceptions). Between 1912 and 1929 the Xmas Number of the Bulletin (caption title) was published on a Saturday (as a separate issue) two days after the regular weekly Bulletin. This practice ceased in 1930. The Christmas issues between 1912 and 1929 were also published without volume/issue numbers.

      • No special Christmas issues were published during the second half of the First World War (1916-1918). Other years in which the Bulletin 'Christmas Number' did not appear (or was not published with the sub-title) were : 1940-1944, 1947.
      • NB: The title page of the 24 December 1947 edition features a full-sized Christmas-related cartoon but does not bear the 'Christmas Number' subtitle.
      • The caption title 'Xmas Number of the Bulletin' was changed in 1928 to the 'Christmas Number of the Bulletin.'
      • Between 1886 and 1891 the Xmas edition was the last issue prior to Christmas Day. From 1892 this policy changed, with the special editions being published up to weeks prior to 25 December (most likely to allow for distribution lags around Australia).

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

First known date: 1880

Works about this Work

1890s Romanticism : Banjo Paterson, Henry Lawson and the Construction of a National Cultural Imaginary Jeremy George , 2024 single work criticism
— Appears in: European Romantic Review , vol. 35 no. 1 2024; (p. 41-58)

'This article re-examines the nationalist poetry published by canonical Australian poets A. B. “Banjo” Paterson and Henry Lawson in the influential journal the Bulletin from 1889 to 1900 as a delayed, settler-colonial instance of Romantic ballad revival. Bush ballads were centrally involved in both the poetic and media dynamics characteristic of earlier Romantic movements. Romanticism therefore provides a new framework to assess one myth of Australian settler-cultural nationalism (naturalized by certain groups within Australian literary studies) that Paterson and Lawson are representative of an organic and distinctly white Australian poetic tradition. This article argues that nationalist ballads used Romantic modes to fabricate a deep white historicity in the bush, establishing a folkloric tradition in a situation with neither an evident folk nor indeed any artifactual lore.' (Publication abstract)

Darryl Wayne Marshall , 2022 single work short story
— Appears in: Overland , Summer no. 245 2022; (p. 70-76)
y separately published work icon Picturing a Nation Gary Werskey , Sydney : NewSouth Publishing , 2021 21196003 2021 single work biography

'The untold story of a major Australian artist. Regarded in his day as an important Australian impressionist painter, A.H. Fullwood (1863-1930) was also the most widely viewed British-Australian artist of the Heidelberg era.

'Fullwood's illustrations for the popular Picturesque Atlas of Australasia and the Bulletin, as well as leading Australian and English newspapers, helped shape how settler-colonial Australia was seen both here and around the world. Meanwhile his paintings were as celebrated as those of his good friends Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton. So why is Fullwood so little known today?

'In this pioneering, richly illustrated biography, Gary Werskey brings Fullwood and his extraordinary career as an illustrator, painter, and war artist back to life, while casting a new light on the most fabled era in the history of Australian art.'

Source : publisher's blurb

The End of The Bulletin Michael Wilding , 2019 single work essay
— Appears in: Wild about Books : Essays on Books and Writing 2019; (p. 122-125)
'The closure of The Bulletin magazine on Australia Day 2008 after 128 years of publication came as no surprise. The surprise was that it had lasted for so long. As Peter Coleman, a former editor, remarked in The Australian, ‘The old Bulletin died decades ago’.' (Introduction)
Witnessing the Decline of a Grand Old Journal Ray Alexander , 2019 single work essay
— Appears in: Meanjin , Autumn vol. 78 no. 1 2019; (p. 10-13)

'The dank editorial offices of the Bulletin in Sydney’s lower George Street in the 1950s were a daunting place for a raw teenager from the remote south-western Sydney suburb of Revesby. I found myself there in response to an advertisement for a copyholder to the proofreader, and landed the job.' (Introduction)

Untitled 1948 single work column
— Appears in: The Bulletin , 24 November vol. 69 no. 3589 1948; (p. 20)
Our Australian Rabelais : Norman Lindsay - Artist and Writer Ray Williams , 1965 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Realist , Summer no. 21 1965; (p. 19-22)
"The Bulletin" : Part 1 Hilton Barton , 1966 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Realist , Autumn no. 22 1966; (p. 9-13)
"The Bulletin" : Part 2 Hilton Barton , 1966 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Realist , Winter no. 23 1966; (p. 18-23)
The Foundations of Culture in Australia P. R. Stephensen , 1935 extract criticism (The Foundations of Culture in Australia : An Essay Towards National Self-respect)
— Appears in: The Australian Mercury , July no. 1 1935; (p. 3-42)

PeriodicalNewspaper Details

ISSN: 0007-4039
Vol.1, no.1 (13 January 1880) - Vol.12, no.172 (12 May 1883); New Series Vol.1, no.1 (19 May 1883) - Vol.126, no.6705 (29 January 2008)
43cm (1880-1957); 28-29cm (1957-1979); 27cm (1979-2008)
Threepence (1880-1883); sixpence (1883-1950); ninepence (1950-1956); one shilling (1956-1963); two shillings/twenty cents (1963-1967)
In 1973 the magazine inexplicably duplicates the 9 June issue number (4858) for the following week (16 June). The error was not rectified and hence both editions continue to share the same issue number (4858).

No edition of the Bulletin was published on the following dates :

    • 23 December 1972
    • 21 February 1976 (the 28 February edition was a 'special double issue)


The volume numbering in 1975 goes out of sequence several times during the year. The correct volume number (96) is used to identify the issues published between 4 and 18 January. Issues published between 25 January and 1 March are identified as Volume 98, while all issues published between 8 March and 12 July are recorded as Volume 99. From 19 July until the end of the year the published Volume number is 97. AustLit entries for the Bulletin betweeen 4 January and 12 July identify the volume numbers as either 96 (correct as published) or [96] (incorrect as published).

Has serialised

Dope, Grantley Lorrens , single work novel
Worsley Enchantedi"Commander Worsley, fired with a purpose", Douglas Stewart , single work poetry
The Kangaroo Shooters, John Lewis , single work short story
Thirty Pieces of Silver, Montague Grover , single work novel
Legend For Sanderson, Vance Palmer , single work novel
Last amended 19 Jan 2023 14:08:25
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