Literary Victoria

Victoria in story, memory, and the imagination. A guide to stories and works about Victoria and Victorians in fiction, personal narratives and non fiction works.

Introduction

This page will help you to:

1. Find our browsing collection of fictional works by Victorian writers

2. Find biographical details about Victorian and Australian writers using the Library's eresources.

3. Find reference works, including bibliographies and anthologies, about our writers.

4. Discover the literary archives of well-known Victorian authors, such as Peter Carey and Sonya Hartnett, in our Manuscripts collection.

Victorian fiction in the Library

You can browse fictional works by Victorian writers in the Victorian fiction genre lounge in The Ian Potter Queens Hall Reading Room. 

The collection features everything from contemporary literary fiction by our many prize-winning local writers through to modern editions of classic texts, such as Nevil Shute's On the beach and The Getting of Wisdom by Henry Handel Richardson. Books are ordered by author's surname, rather than by Dewey number, to make them easier to find.

Reference works

Anthologies

Anthologies are collections of literary works, usually grouped together by a common theme, author, period, genre or subject. Browsing an anthology can be an excellent way to get a broad overview of some of the most significant Australian writers for any given period of time.

Useful anthologies include:

To see the full list of the Library's Australian literature anthologies, enter the string: Australian literature antholog* into the Search box on the catalogue and press Enter. To narrow your results use the sub-categories on the left. For example, you can filter by Subject, Resource Type, Creation date etc. 

Bibliographies

A bibliography is a complete or selective list of literature on a particular subject. The Library has numerous bibliographies of Australian writers, including the following:

To see a full list of bibliographies about Australian writers, enter the string: australia* writers bibliograph* in the Search box on the Library catalogue and then press Search. (Hint: the asterisk will maximise your search results by searching on all variations of a word eg Australia and Australian).

Bibliographies may also have been published about the body of work of select individual writers especially where the writer is an important and/or prolific figure on the Australian literary landscape. For example: A.D.Hope: a bibliography. To see if a bibliography exists for a particular author, try entering their name into the search box along with the word bibliograph* . For example Patrick White bibliograph*

Manuscripts

The Library's Manuscripts collection holds the literary archives of well-known Victorian authors Peter Carey and Sonya Hartnett, as well as letters, diaries and other significant records of many more important Victorian authors and their associates, from both past and present, including Marcus Clarke, Rolf Boldrewood, Alan Marshall, Hal Porter,  Kate Baker, Michelle de Kretser, to name just a few.

It's easy to search the Library's Manuscripts collection. Just enter the name of your chosen writer in the Search box of the catalogue, select Manuscripts from the drop down list of options on the right, and press Search.

TIP: Use inverted commas to search for a writer's name as a phrase.

Once you have found an item of interest,  you can phone Library staff on 8664 7009 to place a request for it. Manuscripts items are delivered to the Heritage Collections Reading Room three times per day;  at 10am, 1pm and 4pm. Some items are held at our offsite store. These will take longer - usually 24 hours.

Eresources

You can find biographical information about Australian writers using the Library's eresources. You can access these databases here at the Library. If you are a Victorian resident and you join the Library, you can also access these eresources from home. Try the following databases:

These databases will help you find biographical information about Australian writers. To see the full range of the library's literature databases, go to A-Z Databases: Literature.

La Trobe Journal

State Library Victoria's La Trobe Journal is an excellent source for locating information in the Library about literary Victoria. Founded in 1968 by the Friends of the State Library of Victoria, this highly regarded journal was created to promote interest in the Library's Australiana collection.

You can access recent editions of the La Trobe Journal online, or browse recent hard copy editions in the La Trobe Reading Room ("the Dome") at call number LT 994.005 LA3. You can access full-text articles from No. 1 April 1968 to No. 88 Spring 2011 in the La Trobe Journal's online archive. Articles are keyword searchable.

Articles about Victorian, and Australian, literary figures, that have appeared in the journal include:

An extraordinary man: John Kinmont Moir

'A fine ruddy mess': the publication of Nettie Palmer's Fourteen years

Joan Lindsay: a time for everything

Kate Baker and "a matter of national importance"

Lawson memories

Remembering the Palmers

Son of a foreign father: a view of Henry Lawson

Three neglected women writers of the 1930s: Jean Campbell, 'Capel Boake', and 'Georgia Rivers'

Unique copy or clandestine edition?: the Fraser copy of Frank Hardy's Power Without Glory

The writer's room

Victorian residents who join the Library can also access this publication as an ebook.

Nettie Palmer

Nettie Palmer [in a] Prahran Bookshop.Watercolour by M.Zuvela. This work is in copyright; H90.98/5

Nettie Palmer (1885-1964) was a Victorian poet, essayist and memoirist. She was also Australia's leading literary critic of her day. She and her husband, writer Vance Palmer, were dedicated to the promotion of Australian literature. You can find Nettie Palmer's papers in the Library's Manuscripts collection.

Writers on writing

Writers on writing is a series of short books in which an Australian author reflects on the personal influence and impact of another author. Current titles in the series include:

Bread and cheese club

Fellows All of the Bread and Cheese Club Melbourne [picture]; H83.24

The Bread and Cheese Club was an all-male club devoted to the causes of ''Mateship, Art and Letters". It formed in Melbourne in 1938, and was headed up by the Knight Grand Cheese: Melbourne book collector J.K. Moir. The club championed Australian writers, and had its own journal: Bohemia.

Sonya Hartnett, author

Sonya Hartnett. By photographer Susan Gordon-Brown; H2006.190/1

Acclaimed Melbourne author Sonya Hartnett wrote her first novel, Trouble all the way, when she was just 13, going on to become one of Australia's most outstanding literary novelists.

State Library Victoria's Manuscripts collection holds a rich archive of Sonya's work, including drafts, proofs, and cover designs of her twenty two novels, including Thursday's child, Stripes of the sidestep wolf, Golden boys, Butterfly and many more.