The first straw man (on writing about Others)

On September 8, Lionel Shriver gave a keynote address at the Brisbane Writers Festival that galvanised several people into action, commentary and anger. Yassmin Abdel-Magied walked out of the session and wrote about her reasons for doing so. Others have written in defence of what they saw as Shriver’s key … Continue reading

Author : nike
Comments : 8 Comments

‘Richilde’ by Johann Karl August Musäus (as translated by William Thomas Beckford)

Perhaps the earliest literary (or written) version of the tale English speakers know as ‘Snow White’ appears in a collection of German folktales that precedes the Grimms’ first publication, in 1812, by about thirty years. In 1782, Johann Karl August Musäus published his Volksmärchen der Deutschen, an early collection of German folktales … Continue reading

Author : nike
Comments : 4 Comments


Sermerssuaq was so powerful that she could lift a kayak on the tips of three fingers. She could kill a seal merely by drumming on its head with her fists. She could rip asunder a fox or hare. Once she arm-wrestled with Qasordlanguaq, another powerful woman, and beat her so … Continue reading

Filed under : Fairy Tales , On Reading
Author : nike
Comments : One Comment

Wind Knots and the Polychronicon

The Polychronicon is a chronicle of the British Isles, written by Ranulf Higden (c. 1280-1364), a Benedictine monk of the monastery of St. Werburgh in Chester. Ranulf apparently travelled throughout the north of Great Britain after becoming a monk in 1299, when he was just nineteen years old. The Polychronicon is a work in seven books (in imitation of … Continue reading

Author : nike

Coode Street Roundtable (Reading Patricia Mckillip’s Kingfisher)

This week I’ve been honoured to participate in a roundtable discussion of Patricia Mckillip’s new novel, Kingfisher, with Jonathan Strahan, Gary K. Wolfe, and Ian Mond over at Coode Street. The novel is a riff on Arthurian tales of Percival (or Parzifal), in a modern North America where questing knights ride around … Continue reading

Filed under : In The Wild , On Reading
Author : nike

Childhood paracosms (Alleston, Ejuxria, Farksolia, Nahum …)

  I’ll be presenting a paper on the life and work of Barbara Newhall Follett as part of the Forgotten Lives/Biographies symposium being held at USQ on April 28th this year. This paper developed out of a research interest that informed the writing of Dying In The First Person, in particular, children who have … Continue reading

Author : nike
Comments : 4 Comments

John Mystery and the Adventure Castle

The wonderful librarian at Monash University’s Rare Books (Stephen Perrin) has shared with me just a few of the many ‘John Mystery’ publications in the collection. John Mystery was an Australian children’s publishing phenomenon. He published hundreds of small, cheap books for children during the late 1930s and 1940s, for very … Continue reading

Author : nike
Comments : 13 Comments

Australian Fairy Tales and William (Billy) Hughes

Here’s a delightful little snippet from my recent sojourn in the Monash University Rare Books Collection. One of the books in their collection is Australian Fairy Tales, by Hume Cook, illustrated by Christian Yandell. The book was first published in 1925 and includes the following rather interesting Foreword by the RT. HON. W. … Continue reading

Author : nike

The Butterfly’s Ball & The Grasshopper’s Feast

For the past few weeks I’ve been in Melbourne, on research leave, working on two novels (the endgame of one, the beginnings of another), attending conferences and  so on. One of the most excellent things I’ve been doing is messing about in the Monash University’s Rare Books Collection, most specifically … Continue reading

Author : nike

Saint Barbara

A beautiful oak carving of Saint Barbara was purchased by the NGV in 1945, the last year of the war. She was first put on display in the Buvelot Gallery in February, 1946. In the National Gallery of Victoria’s quarterly bulletin (Volume II, No I, 1946) Daryl Lindsay* writes: The French saint … … Continue reading

Author : nike
Comments : 2 Comments
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