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Colonial Australian Adventure Fiction



Popular adventure fiction was widely published in colonial Australia, with many tales and short stories appearing in journals and newspapers such as the Bulletin, the Australian Journal, the Boomerang and the Australian Town and Country Journal. The NSW Bookstall was a leading local publisher of popular adventure fiction producing colourful and inexpensive paperbacks with suitably sensational cover images commissioned especially for their titles. Thrilling novels of exploration and danger by prolific colonial authors including Roy Bridges, Arthur Wright, Sydney Powell, Ambrose Pratt and Louis Becke made up a significant part of their list. Though generally viewed as a male-dominated genre, several colonial women authors are also notable for their production of adventure fiction, for example: Broda Reynolds published four novels of bush settlement and adventure, including The Heart of the Bush (1910) and The Selector Girl (1917) while Beatrice Grimshaw became known internationally as an author of South Seas adventures in the 1920s. Popular colonial Australian adventure fiction is often strongly preoccupied with new frontiers, territorial borders and racial difference and tackles questions of colonial settlement and nation building in explicit and sometimes disturbing ways. The tropics, the desert, the bush, and the goldfields provide the settings in which colonial masculinity is severely tested in narratives of outback exploration, gold and treasure seeking, pacific island and seafaring adventures and brutal occasions of frontier violence.

Rachael Weaver