Wednesday 23 October 2013

Geoffrey Dutton's Collection of Australia's Greatest Books

In The Australian Collection: Australia's Greatest Books, published in 1985, writer and editor Geoffrey Dutton selected and reviewed almost one hundred classic Australian books.

Dutton chose only one book from each author.

As Mr. Dutton notes in his book, the definition of 'classic' is relevant to both time and place. 

There are" he says, "many books in each country's literature that are cherished as classics in their homeland but little known elsewhere.

Then, too, Australia has only had just over two hundred years to accumulate a body of literature. 

Miles Franklin, an author included in Dutton's selection, wrote in a foreword to The Australian Novel, edited by Colin Roderick, 

People settling in new lands need novels and dramas closely concerned with their own time, place and community to support and lighten the great classics and world masterpieces in literature. Certain stories relate to our own soil, and when such works find universal acceptance, they still retain greater significance for the people of their own origin than for other readers by imparting a comforting glow which springs from the intimacy of home.

It goes without saying, that many of the writers listed here were not born in Australia. The early explorers, for example, came mostly from England. Nevertheless, for Australians, the themes covered in many of the following works impart that "warm glow" to which Ms Franklin alludes.

(From Project Gutenberg Australia)

Jessica ANDERSON, The Impersonators
Thea ASTLEY, The Slow Natives

Murray BAIL, Homesickness

E J BANFIELD, The Confessions of a Beachcomber
C E W BEAN, The Story of ANZAC
Louis BECKE, By Reef and Palm
Geoffrey BLAINEY, The Tyranny of Distance
Rolf BOLDREWOOD, Robbery Under Arms
Martin BOYD, Lucinda Brayford
Robin BOYD, The Australian Ugliness
Russell BRADDON, The Naked Island
Mary Grant BRUCE, A Little Bush Maid

CADDIE, Caddie: The Autobiography of a Sydney Barmaid
Raffaello CARBONI, The Eureka Stockade
Peter CAREY, Bliss
David CARNEGIE, Spinifex and Sand

D E CHARLWOOD, All the Green Year
Manning CLARK, A History of Australia, Vol. IV.
Marcus CLARKE, For the Term of his Natural Life
Tom COLLINS (Joseph FURPHY), Such is Life
Kenneth COOK, Wake in Fright
Nino CULOTTA, They're a Weird Mob
Dymphna CUSACK and Florence JAMES, Come in Spinner

Eleanor DARK, The Timeless Land
Frank Dalby DAVISON, Man-Shy
Mary DURACK, Kings in Grass Castles

M Barnard ELDERSHAW, A House is Built

Sumner Locke ELLIOTT, Careful, He Might Hear You
H V EVATT, Rum Rebellion
Edward John EYRE, Journals of Expeditions of Discovery into Central Australia

A B FACEY, A Fortunate Life

George FARWELL, Squatter's Castle
David FOSTER, Moonlite
Miles FRANKLIN, My Brilliant Career

Nene GARE, The Fringe Dwellers
Helen GARNER, Monkey Grip
May GIBBS, The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie
Ernest GILES, Australia Twice Traversed
Mrs Aeneas GUNN, We of the Never Never

Frank HARDY, Power Without Glory

William Gosse HAY, The Escape of the Notorious Sir William Heans
Shirley HAZZARD, The Transit of Venus
Rachel HENNING, The Letters of Rachel Henning
Xavier HERBERT, Capricornia
Donald HORNE, The Lucky Country
Tom HUNGERFORD, The Ridge and the River

Ion L IDRIESS, Flynn of the Inland

David IRELAND, The Unknown Industrial Prisoner

Colin JOHNSON, Wild Cat Falling

George JOHNSTON, My Brother Jack

Thomas KENEALLY, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith
Christopher KOCH, The Year of Living Dangerously

Eve LANGLEY, The Pea-pickers

Henry LAWSON, Joe Wilson and his Mates
Joan LINDSAY, Picnic at Hanging Rock
Norman LINDSAY, The Magic Pudding
Lennie LOWER, Here's Luck

David MALOUF, An Imaginary Life

Frederic MANNING, Her Privates We (The Middle Parts of Fortune)
Peter MATHERS, Trap
Douglas MAWSON, The Home of the Blizzard
Roger McDONALD, 1915
Jack McLAREN, My Crowded Solitude
Alan MOOREHEAD, Cooper's Creek
Frank MOORHOUSE, The Americans, Baby

D'Arcy NILAND, The Shiralee

Ruth PARK, The Harp in the South
Cyril PEARL, Wild Men of Sydney
Ethel PEDLEY, Dot and the Kangaroo
Brian PENTON, Landtakers
Hal PORTER, The Watcher on the Cast-Iron Balcony
Katharine Sussanah PRITCHARD, Coonardoo

Francis RATCLIFFE, Flying Fox and Drifting Sand

Henry Handel RICHARDSON, The Fortunes of Richard Mahony
Eric ROLLS, They All Ran Wild
Tom RONAN, Vision Splendid
Steele RUDD, On Our Selection
Olaf RUHEN, Naked Under Capricorn
Vincent SERVENTY, Dryandra

Ivan SOUTHALL, Ash Road
Christina STEAD, The Man Who Loved Children
Louis STONE, Johah
Randolph STOW, To the Islands
Hugh STRETTON, Ideas for Australian Cities
Charles STURT, Two Expeditions into the Interior of Southern Australia, 1828-31

Watkin TENCH, A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson/A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay
Kylie TENNANT, The Battlers
Colin THIELE, Storm Boy 
James TUCKER, Ralph Rashleigh 
Ethel TURNER, Seven Little Australians

Arthur W UPFIELD, Man of Two Tribes

S A WAKEFIELD, Bottersnikes and Gumbles

Russell WARD, The Australian Legend
Judah WATEN, Alien Son Myrtle 
Rose WHITE, No Roads Go By
Patrick WHITE, Voss
Patricia WRIGHTSON, The Nargun and the Stars

Titles marked in red are books that I've read, while those in blue are books that I've seen the movie or TV series only.

This post is part of my AusReading Month preparations for November.

I hope you can join us.

Happy reading mate!


  1. Oooh, great list, I may need to pinch it and see how many I've read. There's always so many more still on the TBR.

    1. Yes, I liked this list too for it's older, lesser known, titles.

  2. Brona, I love this list...even after all these years reading Aussie!
    I saw a biography about Kenneth Cook (by J. Kent) on ANZ LitLovers) and
    want to read that book AND actively work on your list in this post.
    I have been on the isle of Ireland for 5 weeks...time to go 'Down Under'!


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