Under the Southern Cross

Posted on September 1, 2016 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off on Under the Southern Cross

Often sadly forgotten among the English speaking countries, this month we’ll put our focus on authors from New Zealand and Australia with 10 gems from our catalog.

Unfortunately, there are not many authors of Aboriginal or Maori descent in our catalog, since their legends and history were traditionally transmitted orally. The Stone Axe of Burkamukk is only one of the legends of the Gunaikurnai people of Gippsland, collected and written down by Mary Bruce Grant.

Among the first Whites to settle in Australia were convicts from England, one of them David Dickinson Mann. After his full pardon 3 years after his arrival, he became a secretary for the colonial government. The Present Picture of New South Wales gives a detailed account of the colony and its history, as well as suggestions for improvements to save the government’s money.

Another type of improvement was on the mind of Thomas Esson, when he founded the Pioneer Players theatre company. He had come to Australia when we was 3 years old, and is considered the continent’s foremost playwright. His best known play is the political comedy The Time is Not Yet Ripe.

Not quite the right moment was it for Miles Franklin to publish her first romantic novel My Brilliant Career. Although an immediate success, she experienced some backlash from her friends and so she forbade republication in her lifetime. She founded the eponymous award for literature about “Australian life in any of its phases”.

Only a short phase in the turbulent life of Mary Ann Barker was spent in the southern hemisphere. Born in Jamaica, she followed her second husband in 1865 to experience Station Life in New Zealand. The place proved more unwelcoming than expected, and when they lost half of their sheep in the third year, they moved back to England.

Australian life was equally hard on Adam Lindsay Gordon, who moved there when he was 20. Although a renowned steeple-chase rider, his other endeavours were less fortunate, and he commited suicide at age 36. He is the only Australian poet with a bust in Westminster Abbey, and we have a collection of 56 of his Poems.

Rolf Boldrewood – a pseudonym of Thomas Alexander Browne – was 5 when he came to Sydney, and he had a varied career as squatter, writer, and police officer. His experiences as the latter were certainly the blueprint for Robbery Under Arms, a mostly true tale about bush rangers, cattle stealing, and final remorse on death row.

Even if he were caught, criminal mastermind Dr. Nikola would not regret seeking immortality and world domination. A Bid for Fortune is the first novel centered around him, written by Guy Boothby. Born in Adelaide, Boothby followed his mother back to England upon her divorce, where he lived most of his life when he wasn’t travelling.

Katherine Mansfield, born in New Zealand, also left for England at age 19, where she died already with 34 without visiting her home country again. Also an eager traveller, she used her own experiences as inspiration for her modernist short stories. In a German Pension is her first collection about German life before WWI.

ANZAC was the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps founded in 1914, and Joseph Lievesley Beeston was an officer commanding the 4th field ambulance. In Five Months at ANZAC he describes his daily life from the moment he left Australia in December 2014 until his evacuation from Gallipoli.

Enjoy discovering authors from Australia and New Zealand!


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