Towards a history of literary programming on ABC Radio

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After the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) was established in 1932, music occupied just over half of airtime, with talk making up the balance. With the gradual evolution of literary content on Australian radio, novels and plays were adapted, serialised or commissioned, and there were competitions and book readings. Based on fine-grained newspaper and archival research, this article considers the development of book criticism and discussions on ABC radio. It covers the period from the mid-1920s, as individual ‘A-class’ stations experimented with literary broadcasts in the years before the formation of the ABC, to the mid-1960s, after the deaths of critics Vance and Nettie Palmer, who are central to this article. It examines how Australian literature was placed within the context of world literature by ABC radio broadcasters ranging from Frederick T. Macartney and George Farwell to Norman Robb and Colin Roderick. In exploring the ABC’s pioneering and crucial role in the Australian literary ecology, the article also demonstrates how the ABC provided women with considerable opportunities as both critics and writers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalAustralian Literary Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2020


  • Radio
  • broadcasting
  • Australian literature--History and criticism
  • Australian Broadcasting Commission
  • Australia
  • media history


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