AustLit logo
image of person or book cover 563705891372233303.jpg
y separately published work icon On the Beach single work   novel   science fiction  
Issue Details: First known date: 1957... 1957 On the Beach
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

Latest Issues

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'After a nuclear World War III has destroyed most of the globe, the few remaining survivors in southern Australia await the radioactive cloud that is heading their way and bringing certain death to everyone in its path. Among them is an American submarine captain struggling to resist the knowledge that his wife and children in the United States must be dead. Then a faint Morse code signal is picked up, transmitting from somewhere near Seattle, and Captain Towers must lead his submarine crew on a bleak tour of the ruined world in a desperate search for signs of life. Both terrifying and intensely moving, On the Beach is a remarkably convincing portrait of how ordinary people might face the most unimaginable nightmare'. Source: bookseller's website.

Exhibitions

9490353

Adaptations

form y separately published work icon On the Beach John Paxton , ( dir. Stanley Kramer ) Los Angeles : Stanley Kramer Productions , 1959 Z1421090 1959 single work film/TV science fiction

Set five years in the future (in 1964), On the Beach explores the lives of several Australians and some crew members of an American submarine following a nuclear war that has wiped out the population of the northern hemisphere. The submarine finds temporary safe haven in Australia, where life as usual covers growing despair that the winds will inevitably spread radiation to the southern hemisphere, bringing about the end of mankind. The principal characters are the submarine's commander, Captain Dwight Towers, who is in denial about the loss of his wife and children in the holocaust; the careworn but gorgeous Australian woman, Moira Davidson, who begins to fall for him; Julian Osborne, a conscious-stricken scientist whose dream is to win the Australian Grand Prix automobile race; and Lt. Cmdr. Peter Holmes, who is as concerned about his wife and newborn child's future as his own. All cope with the inevitability of death in their own way, but also with love, dignity, and affection. When a Morse code signal is picked up from San Diego, the submarine travels back to the United States' west coast.

form y separately published work icon On the Beach David Williamson , Bill Kerby , ( dir. Russell Mulcahy ) Australia : Southern Star Entertainment Edwards/Sullivan Productions , 2000 Z1606977 2000 single work film/TV science fiction

'Australia is the last place on earth still unaffected by the nuclear fallout of World War II. As the people of Melbourne await the deadly radiation clouds southerly drift, a few survivors from the northern hemisphere, including the US submarine SSN Charleston commanded by Lt. Commander Dwight Towers, make their way into the last safe port of call.'

Source: Screen Australia. (Sighted: 2/8/2012)

Notes

  • Epigraph: Stanzas from T. S. Eliot's 'The Hollow Men', including the final two lines:

    This is the way the world ends

    Not with a bang but a whimper.

  • Other formats: Also braille and sound recording.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Melbourne, Victoria,: Heinemann , 1957 .
      Extent: 312p.
      Reprinted: 1959
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Heinemann ,
      1957 .
      image of person or book cover 563705891372233303.jpg
      Extent: 312p.
      Reprinted: 1957 , 1958 , 1959 , 1960
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Ballantine Books ,
      1957 .
      Extent: 278p.
      Reprinted: 1974 , 1990 , 1997 , 1977
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      William Morrow ,
      1957 .
      Extent: 320p.
      Reprinted: 1966 , 1969 , 1986
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      The Book Club ,
      1958 .
      Extent: 242p.
      • Publisher: Pan
      London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Pan ,
      1966 .
      Extent: 266p.
      ISBN: 0330105701
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Heron Books ,
      1968 .
      Extent: 311p.
      Note/s:
      • Original illustrations by Charles Keeping.
    • Geneva,
      c
      Switzerland,
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Edito-Service ,
      1968 .
      Extent: 311p.
      Note/s:
      • Original illustrations by Charles Keeping.
    • Toronto, Ontario,
      c
      Canada,
      c
      Americas,
      :
      New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Bantam Books ,
      1968 .
      Extent: 278p.
      Reprinted: 1972
    • c
      Canada,
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Heron Books ,
      1970-1979 .
      Extent: 312p.
      Note/s:
      • Published by arrangement with William Heinemann. Original illustrations by Charles Keeping.
    • Mattituck, New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Amereon House ,
      1970-1979 .
      Extent: 311p.
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon A Nevil Shute Omnibus Nevil Shute , London : Heinemann , 1973 Z1423366 1973 selected work novel London : Heinemann , 1973
    • Leicestershire,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Thorpe ,
      1984 .
      ISBN: 0708982328
    • Cutchogue, New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Buccaneer Books ,
      1985 .
      Extent: 250p.
      ISBN: 0899683657
    • Melbourne, Victoria,: Dover , 1987 .
      Extent: 100p.
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Mandarin ,
      1990 .
      Extent: 320p.
      ISBN: 0749304081
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon A Town Like Alice ; The Far Country ; On the Beach Nevil Shute , London : Peerage Books , 1991 Z1423359 1991 selected work novel London : Peerage Books , 1991
    • Thirsk, Yorkshire,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      House of Stratus ,
      2000 .
      Extent: 296p.
      ISBN: 1842322761
Alternative title: Ventetid
Language: Danish
    • Copenhagen,
      c
      Denmark,
      c
      Scandinavia, Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Tonder ,
      1957 .
      Extent: 217p.
    • Copenhagen,
      c
      Denmark,
      c
      Scandinavia, Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Stjernebogerne ,
      1959 .
      Extent: 211p.
      Reprinted: 1961 , 1984 Alt title: Pa stranden.
    • Copenhagen,
      c
      Denmark,
      c
      Scandinavia, Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Vinten ,
      1968 .
      Extent: 209p.

Works about this Work

Before On the Beach: Melbourne on Film in the 1950s Adrian Danks , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: Senses of Cinema , December vol. 85 no. 2017;

Stanley Kramer’s fizzingly apocalyptic On the Beach (1959) dominates and defines popular understandings of Melbourne’s cinematic representation in the 1950s. Shot in the city and its surroundings from January to March 1959, and released internationally towards the end of the year, both the film and Nevil Shute’s source novel have been highly influential in reinforcing and promoting specific understandings of 1950s Melbourne as a staid, sleepy, uneventful and architecturally conservative metropolis. This hard-to-shake view of Melbourne has been further compounded by the lack of comparative feature film images of the city (a brief view in 1952’s Road to Bali excepted) and its appearance in such international documentaries as The Melbourne Rendezvous (1957). But Melbourne does appear more dynamically in a range of less noted and disparate short films, mini-features and documentaries produced by government funded entities like the Australian National Film Board and the State Film Centre of Victoria, small production entities formed around the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Melbourne (often made by major Melbourne architects such as Robin Boyd and Peter McIntyre) and the Melbourne University Film Society, and such maverick independent filmmakers as Giorgio Mangiamele. Many of the works also provide a more critical, though at times celebratory, view of the changing cityscape of Melbourne (height limits for buildings were “exploded” by the completion of ICI House in 1958), the tentative embrace of modernity and internationalisation (e.g. the impact of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics) and the changing ethnicities of the inner city and suburbs. This essay maps and challenges broader understandings of Melbourne’s filmic representation in the 1950s by exploring the various ways in which the city is figured in unjustly forgotten or marginalised films like The Melbourne Wedding Belle (1953), Your House and Mine (1954) and Sunday in Melbourne (1958).

Facing Death on the Australian Beach : Examining Fear and Transcendence Elizabeth Ellison , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: TEXT Special Issue Website Series , October no. 45 2017;

'The Australian beach has often been considered in academic approaches as a place of binaries – focusing on either the mythic (Fiske, Hodge and Turner 1987) or the ordinary (Morris 1998). An edge to the Australian continent, the liminal space of the beach is one that has received some attention. Using Edward Soja’s (1996) ‘Thirdspace’ concept allows the beach to challenge the space as a liminality and emerge as a more complex beachspace, both mythic and ordinary and more all at once. The Australian beach is a place of significant beauty, while simultaneously a place of risk and danger. Visitors to the space are immediately warned to only swim between the flags, and many beaches are patrolled for the majority of the day all throughout the year. Technology has been employed to identify risk despite the inherent unpredictability of the beach (such as shark sighting technology, weather predictions, and wave cameras), with an aim to provide a safe, everyday space available to all Australians to use. The potential risks of accidental death are high on the beach; however, many representations of death tend to include homicide or suicide. ‘Facing death’ is interested in examining how Australian writers of the beach portray death. Classic texts like Nevil Shute’s On the Beach (1957) are discussed alongside more contemporary texts, including Fiona Capp’s Night Surfing (1996), Tim Winton’s Dirt Music (2001), and Romy Ash’s Floundering (2012). These writers portray death as an inevitability or a continual threat. Films such as Newcastle (2008) represent accidental death in a tight knit local community; in comparison Blackrock (1997) deals with both murder and suicide. This paper illustrates how examining the beach as a more complex space by interrogating Australian writing on the subject allows for an interesting understanding of how death is represented on the Australian beach.' (Publication abstract)

Utopia and Utopian Studies in Australia Andrew Milner , Verity Burgmann , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Utopian Studies , vol. 27 no. 2 2016; (p. 200-209)
'There are no independently Australian translations of Thomas More’s Utopia. Nor is there any equivalent in Australia to the Society for Utopian Studies in North America or the Utopian Studies Society in Europe. Nor are there any extant formal research groups or undergraduate or graduate courses in utopian studies. There are, however, distinctively Australian traditions of utopian writing, both eutopian and dystopian, and also a limited field of Australian utopian studies, essentially the work of individual scholars. This article attempts a brief description of both.' (Publication summary)
Our Ground Zero : Future Wars and the Imagined Destruction of Australia's Cities Robin Gerster , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , vol. 75 no. 3 2016; (p. 11-32)
Always Failures On the Road to Success Peter Jean , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: The Advertiser , 8 March 2016; (p. 18)
Book Packs a Bang as World Whimpers Robert Hefner , 2004 single work review
— Appears in: Canberra Sunday Times , 22 August 2004; (p. 19)

— Review of On the Beach Nevil Shute , 1957 single work novel
Reviewed Briefly 1957 single work review
— Appears in: The Bulletin , 25 September vol. 78 no. 4050 1957; (p. 59)

— Review of On the Beach Nevil Shute , 1957 single work novel
Untitled 1957 single work review
— Appears in: New Republic , 12 August no. 137 1957; (p. 20)

— Review of On the Beach Nevil Shute , 1957 single work novel
Untitled 1957 single work review
— Appears in: New York Herald Tribune Book Review , 28 July 1957; (p. 1)

— Review of On the Beach Nevil Shute , 1957 single work novel
Untitled 1957 single work review
— Appears in: San Francisco Chronicle , 24 July 1957; (p. 19)

— Review of On the Beach Nevil Shute , 1957 single work novel
The Joy of Text Patti Miller , 2003 single work essay
— Appears in: Good Weekend , 26 July 2003; (p. 39, 41)
Miller discusses the pleasure she derives from reading. She cites a number of books that she has particularly enjoyed, including The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James as well as some works by Australian authors.
The Golden Age of Australian Science Fiction Sean McMullen , 1995 single work column
— Appears in: Science Fiction : A Review of Speculative Literature , vol. 12 no. 3 (Issue 36) 1995; (p. 3-28)
Solace by the Sea Fiona Capp , 2004 single work essay
— Appears in: The Age , 13 March 2004; (p. 8)
Shute the Messenger Gideon Haigh , 2007 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Monthly , June no. 24 2007; (p. 42-53)
'Yet 50 years ago this month, Shute published arguably Australia's most important novel - important in the sense of confronting a mass international audience with the defining issue of the age.' (Gideon Haigh)
Mr Shute's Apocalypse David Moody , 1959 single work
— Appears in: The Melbourne Critical Review , no. 2 1959; (p. 100-105)
Last amended 26 May 2016 11:39:19
Settings:
  • 1950s
Newspapers:
    Powered by Trove
    X