2009 Antipodes

“One’s commitment to place is … more mutable than one’s commitment to what that place represents”. (Meffan 393) In the recent book London Was Full of Rooms, Carol Hetherington argues that the “statistical basis for the London-centric view of Australian literary production is misleading”. (Hetherington 245)  This account though, when held against the bibliographic evidence that it examines, at least in AustLit’s current data-set, is itself incomplete [Graph A]. As might be observed in the graph representing the place of publication of Australian first edition novels around the world, for the period 1900-2000, the next largest publisher of Australian fiction after London, the United States, is less than one quarter the size of the total British production of Australian novels.  The historical focus on London as Richard Nile’s and David Walker’s “mythologized literary center” appears borne out from such numerical comparisons, not challenged. (Nile and Walker 7)

However, while it might be argued that the London focus cannot be significantly destabilized with reference to AustLit publication data in February 2009, Carol Hetherington’s thesis does initiate a crucial expansion of book history research: that is, the incorporation of other “centers” into literary histories of Australian publishing or what Carol refers to as the other “long distance connections in Australian literature”.  That is, we need not concentrate only on the importance of London [Graph B] since the “reality of [other] Australian literary connections overseas does indeed vary from the conventional wisdom”. (Hetherington 245)

Much of this kind of research, in looking to centers beyond what Martin Lyons has called the “imperial cultural space”, (Lyons and Arnold 22) is driven by the bibliographic visibility provided through AustLit on all editions of Australian works, where a search for any Australian title can return extremely complex records listing all domestic and international expressions and manifestations of a work [Graph C].  This data is invaluable in tracing the publication history of works and an analysis of this data offers quite a detailed view into the overall distribution of the production of Australian novels, especially with what statistical regularities can be observed within this distribution [Graph D].  The nature of this article then, in the spirit of Hetherington’s “misleading London-centric view” argument, is to question the basis for the Sydney- and Melbourne-centric view of Australian literary production … but to do so from a state-by-state – and by territory – regional statistical perspective; that is, via the “interstate connections in Australian literature” …

EXTRACT: Ensor, J 2010, ‘Still Waters Run Deep: Empirical Methods and the Migration Patterns of Regional Publishers’ Authors and Titles within Australian Literature’, Antipodes, AAALS, Brooklyn, New York, pp. 197-208.


Data Analysis:

Publication of First Edition Australian Novels Worldwide, 1900-2000

Top Locations for Publication of First Edition Australian Novels Worldwide, 1900-2000

Publication of First Edition Australian Novels Domestic, 1900-2000