Colonial Australian Popular Fiction series

'An Australian Bush Track' - J.D. Hennessey
An Australian Bush
Track - J.D. Hennessey

Professor Ken Gelder and Dr Rachael Weaver

The Colonial Australian Popular Fiction series is an ongoing collaboration between the Grattan Street Press and the Australian Centre. The series brings the excitement and diversity of colonial Australian fiction to the attention of contemporary readers.

Encompassing both novels and short-story collections, the series will include a range of popular genres that flourished during the colonial period: the bush sketch, the Lemurian novel, crime and detective fiction, the colonial romance, the Gothic tale, the convict novel, the goldfields adventure, and the bushranger novel. Some of the authors were bestsellers in their day, and their work can still take us by surprise. We aim to make colonial Australian fiction accessible to contemporary readers - and we hope the design and layout of these works will be helpful here.

'An Australian Girl in London' - Louise Mack
An Australian Girl in
London - Louise Mack

But we also want to honour the original forms of these works. So we have reprinted from first editions or from the original serialisation of a work in newspapers or journals. Each publication includes a short introduction written by academic specialists, which provides a brief biography of the author (or authors) and offers critical insight into the work and its contexts. We would be particularly pleased if some of our publications eventually became set texts in university or senior secondary courses. We believe these vibrant works from our turbulent past have much to offer all readers of Australian literature. Some of them - especially those exploring the colonial frontier - can be confronting in the intensity of their racism and the level of their violence against Aboriginal people. But it is important for contemporary Australians to experience the legacies of colonialism in all their dark complexity. By doing so, we can begin to understand our historical condition and work towards a more reconciled future.

View the Colonial Australian Popular Fiction series


About Professor Ken Gelder

Ken Gelder is Professor of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Melbourne. He is also a co-director (with Denise Varney) of the Australian Centre in the Faculty of Arts. His latest books include New Directions in Popular Fiction (Palgrave, 2016) and Adapting Bestsellers: Fantasy, Franchise and the Afterlife of Storyworlds which was published by Cambridge University Press in January 2020.

Ken is co-editor (with Rachael Weaver) of four anthologies of colonial popular fiction, covering the Gothic, crime fiction, romance and adventure (all published by MUP) as well as The Colonial Journals, and the emergence of Australian literary culture (University of Western Australia Publishing, 2014). His most recent book with Rachael Weaver is Colonial Australian Fiction: Character Types, Social Formations and the Colonial Economy (Sydney University Press, 2017). Their co-authored book The Colonial Kangaroo Hunt will be published by Melbourne University Publishing in March 2020.

Ken Gelder academic profile

About Dr Rachael Weaver

Rachael Weaver is ARC Senior Research Fellow in English and Theatre Studies at the Australian Centre in the Faculty of Arts. Rachael is co-editor (with Ken Gelder) of four anthologies of colonial popular fiction, covering the Gothic, crime fiction, romance and adventure (all published by MUP) as well as The Colonial Journals, and the emergence of Australian literary culture (University of Western Australia Publishing, 2014). Her most recent book with Ken Gelder is Colonial Australian Fiction: Character Types, Social Formations and the Colonial Economy (Sydney University Press, 2017). Their co-authored book The Colonial Kangaroo Hunt will be published by Melbourne University Publishing in March 2020.

Rachael Weaver academic profile