Following last week’s post on my Five Best Books about Edwardian theatre, and once again in response to shepherd.com – check out their site, it’s extremely innovative – I also created a list of my Best Books on Australian colonial history, which you can find here:
This was a tricky and fascinating task as anyone who knows anything about Australia is aware perceptions of its colonial history have changed down the decades, and the History Wars are still alive and kicking. Basically it comes down to whether or not you consider the Europeans who took possession of the continent back in 1788 were colonists or invaders.
This makes the family historian’s task all the more tricky and fascinating, as my pioneer ancestors did take land from the indigenous people, without compensation, although there are also signs they were on good relations with the Aboriginal people. Since I came at Australian history from a standing start and my complete bibliographies are almost as long as the books themselves, it was a tough ask to whittle it down to just five books. But I ended up with a mixture of comprehensive history written by a Pom (Australia: The Great South Land), a novel written in the 1940s (The Timeless Land), a memoir published in the 1930s (Mary Gilmore), an account of life on the land (Station Life) and a merry yet insightful collection of anecdotes (Larrikins & Bush Tales).
There are several lists on different aspects of Australia and her history on the Shepherd site. Here’s one on Indigenous Australia for instance. (An interesting list, although I might take issue with Bruce Chatwin’s Songlines – about which I wrote in my book Australia and How To Find It.)
Happy reading everyone!