Doing Something for Australia

Article excerpt


Angus and Robertson. Publishers


The booksellers and Publishers Angus and Robertson were famous in the late nineteenth century and the twentieth Century for their publication of books by Australian authors. It was George Robertson (of Sydney) who was chiefly responsible for the publishing programme. It was due to his enthusiasm that a number of Australian authors were enrolled in the Angus and Robertson's stable of writers. The programme took off with the amazing popularity of Banjo Paterson's classic poem The Man from Snowy River. It never looked back. By good fortune the archives of the firm were preserved and were deposited in the Mitchell Library. This rich collection preserved the records of the publications and their author's letters and the accounts of the work of publication. It is this valuable archive of the publishers daily records that Jennifer Alison has used ti unveil the story of part of the history of Australian publishing. The book has recently been published by The Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Jennifer Alison's book is divided into seven sections. Number 1 is an introduction to Angus and Robertson as publishers. The book has little to say about Angus and Robertson as booksellers, their main business. The second section is about the firm's publications from 1888 to 1900. A third section on the work of selling the books that they have published succeeds this. The fourth discusses the success and failures, the profit and loss with comments on their methods of publication and selling, the sales history of various titles of some unsuccessful books. There is some information on financial statements something that is seldom available about publishers.

Section five is about unsolicited manuscripts and some case studies of rejected writers. …