Australians have, until very recently, taken their British inheritance for granted. This timely anthology is a collection of writings, and some cartoons, from the 19th century British periodical press, which was the popular press of its day. The pieces range from articles and book reviews to short stories and poetry, and practical advice to intending emigrants. Some of the writers are anonymous, and others bear familiar and illustrious names: Charles Dickens, Caroline Chisholm, William Thackeray, Henry Parkes, Louisa Lawson. At first, Australia was seen as an inferior, impossibly remote, antipodean place. And when the seeds of an independent political and cultural identity did begin to sprout, that identity held tightly to ideas of 'Britishness'. Readers will be surprised at the variety of views expressed here. A comic piece written just weeks after the first colonists arrived at the Swan River lampoons their pastoral ambitions and recommends the cultivation of literature instead. And there is trenchant criticism of the colonial position on land rights and of the prevailing male ethos. Australia Imagined presents some of the earliest blueprints for Australian identity-water resources, the status of the Aboriginal people, immigration, the dominance of sport in the national psyche-that Australians are still debating today.
Publication Date: 7/1/2005