Monday musings on Australian literature: University presses
I was inspired to write this post last year when commenter Wendy Borchers mentioned Catchfire Press and described it as being associated with the University of Newcastle. I’d never heard of it. It is a community-based press primarily run by volunteers, but their covers, they say, are chosen by competition between senior design students at the University of Newcastle. The link is perhaps a little tenuous though there may be other connections not mentioned on their website. Whatever, they look like a delightful press with a wonderful heart doing something good for a local community, and they reminded me to look at the role university presses play in Australian publishing.
So, let’s look at some of the university presses which are out there promoting and publishing Australian literature – and I’m going to focus mainly on fiction. There’s probably a lot going on that I’m not aware of, but there are a few publishers who for me really stand out, and the grandma of them all is …
UQP, or the University of Queensland Press
Way back in the 1980s when I rediscovered Australian writers, and particularly Australian women writers, it was UQP that brought some of the best to me, like the wonderful Olga Masters who died way too early. Their imprint is recognisable and when I see it I know to expect quality. But then, they’re Queenslanders and so am I! UQP has apparently been going since 1948. They started as a traditional academic press but moved into more general publishing of fiction, poetry, indigenous writing and children’s literature. They published the early works of writers like David Malouf, Peter Carey and Kate Grenville and are now moving into digital publishing. Check out the authors page of their website and you can’t help but be impressed at their contribution to the Australian literary landscape.
Now, jump three decades and we come to the next university press to make an impression on me, and that is …
This was the first publisher to send me books to review. It was a new thing for me, and Lisa of ANZ Litlovers, and it was new for them. That was in late 2009 and what they sent us was their first lot of books in their Australian Classics Library, some of which they had already captured and published via their SETIS digital program. They introduced me to writers like Price Warung, encouraged me to read CJ Dennis, and gave me another Jessica Anderson to read. Their focus is still, I think, more traditionally academic, but I love and appreciate their commitment to some lesser known Australian classics.
And then, in just the last week or so I heard, via Twitter from bloggers Marilyn and Yvonne, of
Australian National University
And its ANU E Press which is publishing, electronically and free of charge, books in its ANU Lives Series in Biography. You have to buy the print versions but the online versions are free. These aren’t fiction – being biography – but are of interest to me with titles like Maori and Aboriginal women in the public eye and Transnational ties. I need to keep an eye on them.
That’s three but I’m sure other Aussies can point to more … and I hope they do because universities are well placed to offer different spins on publishing as these three examples do. It looks to me as through each is operating under different economic imperatives but achieving something important in our local publishing scene.
And here I will close, well aware that it is now nearly Wednesday … My excuse is that I am currently on the other side of Australia and my personal time clock is out of whack! Or something like that ….
Oh, and I will add more links when I am back in my more comfy computing domain …