What were the various traditions that formed the beginnings of Australian Literature
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What were the various traditions that formed the beginnings of Australian Literature? Illustrate with examples

The earliest section of Australia’s literary history deals with early colonial literature, which were largely controlled by white males. Travelogues, poetry, bush tales, yarns, and songs were among them. They generally highlighted diverse people’s experiences, as well as the heroic hardships faced by prisoners, ex-convicts, settlers, and government officials during Australia’s growth. The second segment focuses on women’s works that tended to tell the tale of a white lady during this time period. The final section is dedicated to Aboriginal writing. Aboriginal writers present their own interpretation of events during the European conquerors’ invasion and colonisation of Australia. Dispossession, economic distress, and racism are all addressed in their literary works. These literary works offer views of Australia as seen, encountered, or conveyed by diverse writers from the time of the penal colony’s founding to the present. We saw how Australia has been striving to find ways to deal with its history and the fight to develop a diverse society via these texts.


Early travellers, explorers, and settlers’ notebooks, diaries, and letters were the earliest works of writing influenced by European encounter with the Australian continent. As per Delys Bird, the accounts of William Dampier, publication as A New Voyage Round the World (1689), and James Cook, who offered a view of the land as “degraded and barren” as well as “as offering a fertile future,” respectively, formed “the terms of a dialogical paradigm… moving between… prison and paradise, gloom and optimism, that shapes much colonial writing” . The Macrnillan Anthology contains excerpts from Cook’s narrative of April 20, 1770, which describe one side of the tale of Australia’s colonisation.

The majority of the writers in colonial literature were men, which is a distinguishing feature. This was due to the fact that the prisoners and early immigrants were predominantly males. Second, the majority of the initial migrants to Australia were men. “Mateship,” as a kind of masculine solidarity, actively excluded women, delegating to them the passive virtues of stoicism and fortitude.


Catherine Spence, who travelled with her family from Scotland to South Australia, was one of the first female authors to attain recognition during this time. Jane Austen had a significant effect on her writing. Her books focused on the issues of white female immigration. As a result, she holds the distinction of being the first woman author to write about Australia, as well as the first to address women’s issues. Clara Morison, A Tale of South Australia During the Gold Fever explores the social, economical, and moral challenges of the time in Adelaide through the eyes of a woman. Men were portrayed as valiant, diligent, and hence responsible for Australia’s progress and prosperity by male authors of the time. As a result, women were frequently represented as submissive, feeble, and reliant on males for protection and sustenance. The Aborigines were depicted as “half human, ignorant, amoral, and undeserving of regard” in some of the plays, poetry, and novels of the time.


Adam Shoemaker involves journalism, evidenced by “The Aboriginal or Flinders Island Chronicle,” published in Tasmania between September and December 1836, the most popular of which he considers as the bark petition issued by the Yirrkala people of Arnhem Land in 1963, in the initial stage of Aboriginal Australian writing in English (14-17). After the 1960s, the release of Kath Walker’s poems, Jack Davis’s and Kevin Gilbert’s plays, and Colin Johnson’s (after known as Mudrooroo) books demonstrated the existence of Aboriginal voices in literature. There hasn’t been a turn back since then.

Australian literature consited of older forms and translated versions of Aboriginal song sequences or folktales, as well as memoirs, journals, and ballads of early European explorers and settlers. This also comprises relatively formalized works of literature that emerged when writing and printing became more entrenched on the island nation. Much like literature of any other country, it depicts Australia’s emergence into the country we recognize today in various ways.

Much of what we may put in the category of Australian literature from the beginning stages of its development was not what would be called literature in the traditional sense. The Aboriginal peoples of Australia, for example, handed on their oral songs and stories from generation to generation without writing them down. Even when they were documented in English translations, it was with a more anthropological than literary aim. Rather than studying the aesthetic elements of these artefacts, the goal was to understand more about the Aboriginal peoples’ culture and values from a scientific standpoint. Moreover, the documents, memoirs, diaries, and notebooks that are now part of the literary study have not always been intended for this purpose. They included frequently explorers’, administrators’, and settlers’ private or official documents. These works, on the other hand, are essential resource for understanding how the land, conditions, and people of Australia evolved in the minds and imaginations of those who lived or visited the country. They demonstrate how Australian literature was created and the early influences that shaped it.

Ballads and bush songs, which had hitherto been primarily associated with folklore, became part of the literary heritage. Oral ballads and bush songs became more cognizant of their forms, topics, and figures when writers began to nurture and refine them. Patterson, or ‘Banjo,’ is a writer who adheres to this school of thought. Waltzing Matilda, a ballad about a swagman — a travelling agricultural labourer in the Australian outback – has become an unofficial national anthem for many Australians of European heritage.

In Australia, literature evolved and took on many different forms, including the famous local tale, the literary interpretation of the fire. During this formative period, notable short storey authors such as Henry Laws and Barbara Baynton made significant contributions to the innovation and implementation of this form. Their work captures aspects of the emergence of Australian Bush and people cultural mythology. During the impact of construction, the Erardships and energy of European settlers and bush people may be seen in their effort. It was only logical that the writers, who were mostly British settlers, would apply the values and conventions of British literature to their work at this early period of development. Early Australian writing was often gazing over its shoulder towards England in this way. This quickly became a subject of contention, since some writers believed that the best course for writings was to follow and retain British literary traditions. Many believed that because Australia was so unlike to England, it should sever its ties with the mother country and forge its own national identity, which should be represented in Australian literature.

In Australia, like in most of the rest of the English-speaking world, poetry was more popular in the first half of the twentieth century, while the novel rose to popularity in the second. Judith Wright and A.D. Hope were classic characters in Australian poetry during its golden age. Patrick White, the Nobel Prize winner from Australia, is undoubtedly the best and most learned of the country’s authors. Their literature began to shift away from both a slavish copy of European styles and a concentration on the Bush’s people and customs. The cities of modern Australia began to appear more prominently in their work. As the face of the Australian nation began to shift, so did the literature of the country. Writers such as Kath Walker, Mudrooroo, Kevin Gilbert, and Sally Morgan have brought Aboriginal poetry, theatre, and tales to the fore. There has also been an increase in the popularity of autobiographies, biographies, and life tales. The varied perspectives heard in the world of Australian literature mirror the diversity that is being pushed on a political level. More women, Aborigines, and migrants are joining the fascinating confluence that is Australian writing today.

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