Barry Andrews graduated from the University of New South Wales in 1963, at a time when Australia's cultural cringe (away from local culture in favour of British culture) was strongly marked. His championing of Australian literary culture ranged widely, from Ginger Meggs to Henry Lawson. He taught English at University College Canberra (now UNSW ADFA) and was a co-founder of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL). He died at the age of forty-four.
On the day of his death, the Oxford Literary Guide to Australia, an ASAL publication that he had inspired and of which he was associate editor, was published and a copy put beside his bed; however, he was too ill to be aware of it. ASAL sponsors an annual lecture in his honour.
'A comprehensive account of Australian literature from the first settlement in 1788 to the current day, this book represents the most important achievements in Australian poetry, drama, and fiction as well as non-fictional prose–journals, diaries, biographies, and autobiographies–and details the impact on the writing caused by those historical events that often serve as a work's theme. More than 3,000 informative entries cover subjects such as transportation, exploration, gold discoveries, bushranging, and outback ethos, all of which played a part in the development of the continent's literature as did the pervasive presence and influence of the Aboriginal culture. Entries range from lengthy articles on special topics to brief factual paragraphs explaining words or references. Also provided is information and reference sources on important past and contemporary writers as well as anything and everything that may have influenced their development: the growth of publishing and periodicals; the impact of movements such as nationalism, racialism, and feminism; and the contributions made by booksellers, critics, and literary associations. A major new Oxford Companion, this book makes an intriguing new genre of literature accessible to all readers.' (Source: On-line)