Adelaide and the country: The literary dimension

Jill Roe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


I owe the title of this chapter to that distinctively South Australian historian John Hirst, whose 1973 study of the changing social and political relationship between ‘Adelaide and the country’ from the 1870s to 1917 is one of the classics of South Australian history. In what follows, I will be concerned mainly with what literary historian Geoffrey Dutton once dubbed ‘the mechanics of literature’ (Snow on the Saltbush, part 3), and with some relevant regional writings, relevant that is to the emergence of ‘literary Adelaide’. The chapter deals predominantly with the first half of the twentieth century, before the 1960s. It comes in three parts, ‘the country’, ‘the city’ and ‘the country and the city’. It will aim to show that by the 1960s, there was a self-sustaining ‘literary Adelaide’, though the literary culture was rather more closely tied to the countryside than was the case elsewhere in Australia then and rather more aware of its links to the first peoples. My father was a farmer. Unlike many, maybe most, farmers, he read books. Unfortunately, my recall of the many titles that came into the house in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when I left for Adelaide, is limited. But I do remember some favourite authors: Australians Ion Idriess and F.J. Thwaites, and Nicholas Monsarrat and Elizabeth Goudge, both British writers, as well as the controversial Howard Spring. John Roe's farm was on lower Eyre Peninsula.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdelaide: A Literary City
EditorsPhilip Butterss
Place of PublicationAdelaide
PublisherUniversity of Adelaide Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781922064646
ISBN (Print)9781922064639
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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