Black Australian Literature: A Bibliography of Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Oral Traditions and Non-Fiction, Including Critical Commentary, 1900-91

Article excerpt

Black Australian Literature: A Bibliography of Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Oral Traditions and Non-Fiction, Including Critical Commentary, 1900-91, by Heinz Schurmann-Zeggel. Peter Lang, 1997. Paperback, US$50.95.

Nan Albinski's Guide is an important finding aid for Australian manuscripts held in North American Libraries. In addition to the major collections -- the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Pennsylvania and, for poetry, the State University of New York at Buffalo -- it locates many smaller collections and even individual items and mentions of a writer in third party correspondence.

The principal listing of the material is arranged by (Australian) author. Each entry gives, where possible, the dates of the author and a label identifying their occupation or the genre in which they principally wrote. This is followed by the name of the collection in which the material is held, the location in the collection (e.g. Box 4-1) the description of the item, and in many cases, a notation of where in Australia the principal collection of that writer's papers is held.

The principal listing is followed by a series of supplementary indexes, the first of which is a library index arranged by state or province and giving collection name and list of Australian authors with material therein. This is especially useful for the researcher who is going to a particular city and wants to know if there is any Australian literary manuscript material there likely to interest him or her. The next index is a list of all collection names mentioned in the principal listing. Since the only other information given is the location of the collection, the usefulness of this index is limited to serendipitous browsing. However, there will be rewards for most researchers: I mentally bookmarked a Rider Haggard collection at Columbia University and the Macmillan (Canada) archive held by McMaster University. The final index is an address list of the Australian libraries shown in the main listing as holding the major part of a writer's collection -- an unnecessary, but convenient inclusion.

Kay Walsh and Joy Hooton have issued the second volume of Australian Autobiographical Narratives covering the period 1850-1900 but extending well into the twentieth century to include figures like Daryl Lindsay (b. 1890, memoir published 1965), or Bill Harney (b. 1895, memoir published 1946). The listing of 533 published accounts is arranged by author, giving author dates, publication details, a summary and the date span of the narrative, and a cross reference to the Australian Dictionary of Biography where applicable.

The main sequence is followed by name, place and subject indexes. The name index is remarkable for the high proportion of names which appear only once, suggesting that lives in colonial Australia had far fewer intersections than one might have expected. …