Australian Books and Authors in the American Marketplace 1840s-1940s

David Carter and Roger Osborne

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Format: paperback
378 pages
ISBN: 9781743325797

Publication: 18 May 2018
Series: Sydney Studies in Australian Literature
Publisher: Sydney University Press

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Shortlisted for the Walter McRae Russel Award 2019

Australian Books and Authors in the American Marketplace 1840s–1940s explores how Australian writers and their works were present in the United States before the mid-20th century to a much greater degree than previously acknowledged. Drawing on fresh archival research and combining the approaches of literary criticism, print culture studies and book history, David Carter and Roger Osborne demonstrate that Australian writing was transnational long before the contemporary period. In mapping Australian literature’s connections to British and US markets, their research challenges established understandings of national, imperial and world literatures.

Carter and Osborne examine how Australian authors, editors and publishers engaged productively with their American counterparts, and how American readers and reviewers responded to Australian works. They consider the role played by British publishers and agents in taking Australian writing to America, and creating new opportunities for novelists to move between markets.

Some of these writers, such as Christina Stead and Patrick White, remain household names; others who once enjoyed international fame, such as Dale Collins and Alice Grant Rosman, have been largely forgotten. The story of their books in America reveals how culture, commerce and copyright law interacted to create both opportunities and obstacles for Australian writers.

David Carter is Professor of Australian Literature and Cultural History in the School of Communication and Arts at the University of Queensland.

Roger Osborne is Senior Lecturer in English and Writing at James Cook University, Cairns.

List of figures
List of plates

Introduction: the two-sided triangle

1. Antipodean romance: Australian fiction and the American book trade in the 19th century
2. International reputations and transatlantic rights: Rosa Praed and Louis Becke
3. Crime, sensation and the modern genre system: Australian authors in the popular fiction marketplace, 1820s–1920s
4. Renegotiating the American connection: Australian fiction 1900–1930s
5. Mystery and romance: the market for light fiction between the wars
6. Becoming articulate: Henry Handel Richardson and Katharine Susannah Prichard
7. ‘Australia is very American’: Australian historical fiction in America 1920s–1940s
8. ‘Australian moderns’: Christina Stead and Patrick White in New York
9. Bestsellers, modest sellers and commercial failures: the postwar years

Epilogue: completing the triangle

Works cited

"What this erudite study shows is the value of paying closer attention to genre and moving beyond a rigid conception of nation, and it thus situates itself as part of the transnational turn in publishing studies rather than addressing those questions of definition directly. Overall, this is an excellent contribution to transnational print culture studies, taking seriously the need to think across borders when evaluating the spread of literature in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries."
Emily Bell   Publishing History

‘This book serves as both an enjoyable read as well as a scholarly perusal, drawing on extensive research into primary resources and a wide range of critical and historical documents … [The book shows] us how Australian literature—contrary to the “evolutionary mode” of approaching independent, mature and modern status—migrated transnationally, and then achieved international presence before it was recognised as “national literature”.’
Zhao Siqi   Journal of Australian Studies

'David Carter and Roger Osborne have produced a highly readable, deeply interesting and provocative study of the fortunes of Australian literature. If as they argue, ‘Australia’s place in the world republic of letters needs a new trigonometry,’ then their book has provided a powerful mapping of a vital segment of Australian literary history, and one that will provide a new set of coordinates for future researchers.'
Robert Clarke   Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature

‘This is book history par excellence, assured of its breadth and detail of the archive, but rich with the humanity of its makers. Australian Books and Authors is an elegantly told story of the ebbs and flows of a cultural trademark manufactured by the publishing apparatus of America’s dominant book industry.’
Keyvan Allahyari   Australian Book Review

‘The book is chock-full of intriguing facts which could either be vital leads or red herrings depending on the reader’s predilections, but which are all tantalising. Their appeal is buttressed by many color and black and white reproductions of book covers and, most intriguingly, advertisements in American papers which are often fascinating documents of cultural evidence.’
Nicholas Birns, New York University   Southerly

‘This account of American publishing serves as a parallel literary history: of fiction that has become part of our literary canon, and of popular writing that has disappeared from memory. Carter and Osborne quote numerous published reviews and private comments by American publishers that reinforce a sense of the openness, sophistication and perceptiveness of these literary Americans. They place Australian writing in the context of the international development of the novel rather than the conventional local interest in Australianness.’
Susan Lever   Inside Story

Format: paperback
Size: 250 × 176 × 27 mm
378 pages
10 colour illustrations and 27 b&w illustrations
Copyright: © 2018
ISBN: 9781743325797
Publication: 18 May 2018
Series: Sydney Studies in Australian Literature