"We have to learn to love imperially": love in late colonial and federation Australian romance novels

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Abstract

This article explores Australian romance fiction from the 1880s to 1930s to contemplate how Australian women writers conceptualized romantic love, gender relations, marriage, and the role of the romantic couple within the nation and British Empire. It argues that short stories about love and romance novels prior to Australian Federation (1901) tended to be more pessimistic about the outcome of romantic love in the colonies; both male and female writers of love stories were too aware of the hardships that befell women in the colonies, especially along the frontier. After Federation, however, many of the obstacles to love that had developed in the colonial romance persisted, but in the post-Federation romance novel women writers began to imagine that Australian culture, environment, and character - particularly the two heroic national types, the "Australian Girl" and the "Coming Man" - were ultimately sufficient to overcome such obstacles. Thus post-Federation romance novels are more likely to have happy endings. In these romances, a successful marriage between an Australian and a Briton also served the higher purpose of either nation- or empire-building.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Popular Romance Studies
Issue number4.2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Australian frontier/bush
  • Australian love stories
  • British Empire
  • colonial romance novel
  • "the Australian Girl"

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