Monday musings on Australian literature: The Victorian Literary Map

This week’s Monday Musings will be a brief one, partly because my time is tight (I really must finish Parrot and Olivier in America by tomorrow) and partly because I’m primarily going to post a link to a map: the online interactive Victorian Literary Map.

As you might have guessed from my various Literary Road postings, I am rather partial to maps, particularly when they are combined with a subject of interest to me. Consequently, I was rather thrilled when I came across the Victorian Literary Map. It is a project of the State Library of Victoria, and was part of the Library’s Independent Type: Books and Writing in Victoria exhibition which celebrated Melbourne’s establishment as a UNESCO city of literature. It has Flash (with a clickable map) and Text (with a clickable alphabetical listing of towns) versions. The introduction to the text version says, simply:

Victoria is a state of rich and diverse literary culture.
View the places where some of our greatest writing was created or set, and learn about our writers and their origins.

Clicking on a place (in the map or index) can retrieve:

  • the name/s of writer/s associated with the place. Click on an author and the little pop-up “card” contains an image of the writer, a brief biography, a list of references and, where they exist, related links to another writer in the map
  • work/s set in or about the place. Click on the work and the little pop-up comprises an excerpt from the work
  • events or other literary activities associated with the place, such as Clunes Booktown

The map seems a little limited though, because the text version introduction also contains the following:

NOTE: Only towns and places that have literary records will show in the index.

Lake View House, Chiltern

Lake View House, Chiltern (Courtesy Golden Wattle, via Wikipedia, using CC-BY-SA 2.5)

This must be why Chiltern does not appear in the map, because it certainly has literary associations. The Australian author Henry Handel Richardson lived in Lake View House for a short time, and set the early years of what is probably her most famous novel (trilogy), The fortunes of Richard Mahoney, in the town. It’s a pretty little town well worth visiting, and so it’s a shame it doesn’t appear on the map.

Anyhow, click on the map and have a look around. It’s a nice idea, though it could do with updating, in a technological sense (such as implementing some Web 2.o functionality), and expansion, in terms of content (as Victoria’s literary heritage is clearly richer than the map shows).

Oh, and I’d love to know if there are other web-based initiatives designed to help we literary travellers.

6 thoughts on “Monday musings on Australian literature: The Victorian Literary Map

    • Great idea Lisa … as I think we’ve discussed before, I’ve had American books (one history, one geology) that are organised by major road/route so as you drive down the road you can follow the book. BUT your idea is perfect…

    • Thanks Stefanie. They’re great. How different but similar each is. Without analysing them in detail. I think I like the Manhattan one best. All the little bookcovers on the London one make it cluttered and you can’t read most of them anyhow. I can see all my Literary Companions being gradually superseded!

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