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Australian Academic & Research Libraries ISSN: 0004-8623 (Print) 1839-471X (Online) Journal homepage: <a href=http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/uarl20 A Labour of Love? The Story Behind the Compilation of Love Brought to Book: A Bio- bibliography of 20th Century Australian Romance Novels Juliet Flesch To cite this article: Juliet Flesch (1996) A Labour of Love? The Story Behind the Compilation of Love Brought to Book: A Bio-bibliography of 20th Century Australian Romance Novels, Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 27:3, 182-190, DOI: 10.1080/00048623.1996.10754974 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00048623.1996.10754974 Published online: 28 Oct 2013. Submit your article to this journal Article views: 89 View related articles Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=uarl20 Download by: [197.37.67.46] Date: 06 October 2015, At: 13:20 " id="pdf-obj-0-2" src="pdf-obj-0-2.jpg">
Australian Academic & Research Libraries ISSN: 0004-8623 (Print) 1839-471X (Online) Journal homepage: <a href=http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/uarl20 A Labour of Love? The Story Behind the Compilation of Love Brought to Book: A Bio- bibliography of 20th Century Australian Romance Novels Juliet Flesch To cite this article: Juliet Flesch (1996) A Labour of Love? The Story Behind the Compilation of Love Brought to Book: A Bio-bibliography of 20th Century Australian Romance Novels, Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 27:3, 182-190, DOI: 10.1080/00048623.1996.10754974 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00048623.1996.10754974 Published online: 28 Oct 2013. Submit your article to this journal Article views: 89 View related articles Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=uarl20 Download by: [197.37.67.46] Date: 06 October 2015, At: 13:20 " id="pdf-obj-0-4" src="pdf-obj-0-4.jpg">

Australian Academic & Research Libraries

ISSN: 0004-8623 (Print) 1839-471X (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/uarl20

A Labour of Love? The Story Behind the Compilation of Love Brought to Book: A Bio- bibliography of 20th Century Australian Romance Novels

Juliet Flesch

To cite this article: Juliet Flesch (1996) A Labour of Love? The Story Behind the Compilation of Love Brought to Book: A Bio-bibliography of 20th Century Australian Romance Novels, Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 27:3, 182-190, DOI:

  • Published online: 28 Oct 2013.

Australian Academic & Research Libraries ISSN: 0004-8623 (Print) 1839-471X (Online) Journal homepage: <a href=http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/uarl20 A Labour of Love? The Story Behind the Compilation of Love Brought to Book: A Bio- bibliography of 20th Century Australian Romance Novels Juliet Flesch To cite this article: Juliet Flesch (1996) A Labour of Love? The Story Behind the Compilation of Love Brought to Book: A Bio-bibliography of 20th Century Australian Romance Novels, Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 27:3, 182-190, DOI: 10.1080/00048623.1996.10754974 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00048623.1996.10754974 Published online: 28 Oct 2013. Submit your article to this journal Article views: 89 View related articles Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=uarl20 Download by: [197.37.67.46] Date: 06 October 2015, At: 13:20 " id="pdf-obj-0-32" src="pdf-obj-0-32.jpg">
  • Article views: 89

Australian Academic & Research Libraries ISSN: 0004-8623 (Print) 1839-471X (Online) Journal homepage: <a href=http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/uarl20 A Labour of Love? The Story Behind the Compilation of Love Brought to Book: A Bio- bibliography of 20th Century Australian Romance Novels Juliet Flesch To cite this article: Juliet Flesch (1996) A Labour of Love? The Story Behind the Compilation of Love Brought to Book: A Bio-bibliography of 20th Century Australian Romance Novels, Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 27:3, 182-190, DOI: 10.1080/00048623.1996.10754974 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00048623.1996.10754974 Published online: 28 Oct 2013. Submit your article to this journal Article views: 89 View related articles Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=uarl20 Download by: [197.37.67.46] Date: 06 October 2015, At: 13:20 " id="pdf-obj-0-43" src="pdf-obj-0-43.jpg">

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A Labour of Love? The Story Behind the Compilation of Love Brought to Book: A Rio-bibliography of 20th Century Australian Romance Novels

JULIET FLESCH

Collection Management Librarian, University of Melbourne

ABSTRACT Love Brought to Book has been widely noted by the Australian press and radio, but failed to get a single review in newspapers with book review pages. The author describes her frustration while compiling the bio-bibliography, and concludes with a plea for a systematic bibliographic listing of Australian romance fiction and its preservation as part of the nation's cultural record.

An edited version of a paper delivered at the Annual Conference of the Bibliographical

Society of Australian &

New Zealand 3-4 November 1995.

Publishing my bibliography of 20th century Australian romance novels has been an extraordinary experience for a whole variety of reasons, many of which I do not think would have been present had I compiled a bibliography of 20th century Australian cookbooks, books on rose-growing or children's books. Peculiarities were observable both while I was compiling the information and after the book was published. Love Brought to Book was published in May 1995 1 It is intrinsically no more or less entertaining than any other bibliography. It contains the usual list of authors, the titles of their books, the imprint details of place, publisher and date. There is a small amount of biographical information provided for many of the authors. There are three introductory essays and a few illustrations, taken from the dust-jackets of the books listed. It contains one of the most unfortunate (albeit hilarious) misprints I have seen for a while and is. in my opinion, quite nicely set out. It does not, as many bibliographies seek to do, list all editions of all the works listed and it does not even list all editions in English. It does not purport to be a list of first editions, either. What is listed is simply the first edition of each title to come to my attention, whether this was an American edition, an English one, a reprint or the first impression. To have done otherwise would have stretched the list enormously, since many of the authors listed are published in a couple of dozen languages, in several English-language editions and reprinted many times over. My failure to list all these variations is not without bibliographical importance, if only because the cover artwork is very different from edition to edition and from publisher to publisher. There may also be textual differences between the American and the English editions. Julia Byrne has noted that when her Gentle Conqueror was translated into French, the love scenes were toned down and Marion Lennox, in her introduction to Love Brought to Book, mentions changing the ending of one of her novels when it was re-issued. The reception accorded to Love Brought to Book struck me as unusual for a bibliography. It was the subject of almost a dozen radio interviews. two campus newspaper articles. articles in several interstate dailies and two national newspapers,

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The Australian and Campus Review. It received a single column inch review in the Sunday Herald Sun upon publication, and a snippet in New Woman a few months later. Although it has been sent to all the major library and literary journals, and has been reviewed in this journal 2 and in The Australian Library Journal' at the beginning of this year, it was not reviewed by the Australian Book Review or any newspaper with book review pages. Although the person who launched the book was the high-profile publisher Diana Gribble, not even the newspaper (Melbourne Weekly) owned by her company reviewed it. In other words, the publication of the bibliography was regarded as newsworthy. Its content apparently merits no serious notice by the review editors of newspapers, library or literary journals. So what makes Love Brought to Book so different? In my introduction to the bibliography I tell how, when I was working in the National Library of Australia, one of my most important responsibilities was to ensure that the national collection of works by Australian authors was complete. One day, one of my colleagues, a Brisbane native, mentioned that a former schoolmate of hers was in the odd position of making a very good living as a full-time novelist without any of her books having been acquired by the National Library of Australia. The writer in question was the Queensland author Margaret Way who published no fewer than 70 novels between 1970 and 1996. All of these books were published in England and Australia, reaching a readership of millions through personal purchase and library borrowing. Most, if not all, were translated into several languages, reaching an audience beyond the English-speaking world. If you do not read romance yourself or work in a public library, you have probably never heard of Margaret Way. I was troubled by the fact that she was not represented in the national collection, and I remain troubled by the fact that while her name and output are listed in Women Writers and Australia 4 , Debra Adelaide's Bibliography of Australian Women's Literature 1795-1990 5 and Love Brought to Book, she is absent from the second edition of D W Thorpe's Who's Who of Australian Writer/' as she was from the first. The point here, of course, is not whether romance fiction is mind-rotting pap, great literature or something in between. The point is: if a woman who publishes an average of three books a year for over 20 years with a multinational publishing house is not a writer, then what on earth is she? Margaret Way is not a factory or an amalgam of anonymous hacks churning out a few thousand words a week to a formula; she is a real person. Before she began publishing she taught piano and voice and had a career as a pianist. She collects art and antiques and is a keen gardener. Her books, like them or not, are real books. They have title pages, printing histories, all the appurtenances of normal novels. And Margaret Way is not alone in her exclusion from the national collection and the national cultural record. As far as romance novelists are concerned, this constitutes the rule rather than the exception. For a brief period, indeed, the National Library of Australia did not accord Australian romance novels individual cataloguing in the Australian National Bibliography (ANB). They were treated as part of a made-up series. Moreover, even when Australian romance novels were ostensibly given the same degree of bibliographical attention as is accorded to the silver jubilee histories of tiny primary schools in country towns, the record was far from complete. There are titles listed in the Mitchell Library catalogue which are not in ANB and titles in the British National Bibliography (BNB) which are missing from both of them.

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Deciding what kind of books to include in the bibliography did not preoccupy me perhaps as much as the purists would have wished, and John Arnold from the National Centre for Australian Studies and I had several discussions over particular authors as we debated what constitutes romance. In the end, the firmest criterion I can offer is that of a work in which the relationship between the two principal characters is of paramount importance, to the virtual exclusion of everything else. This criterion excludes the 'sweeping saga' of the Sara Dane variety and would exclude Gone with the Wind. It would most certainly exclude Jane Austen from an English listing and excluded F J Thwaites, Catherine Gaskin and Colleen McCullough from mine. The bibliography is of novels only, so that many writers who figure under the

romance category in

Lord's

Directory

of Australian Authors 1 or

Who's

Who

of

Australian Writers are not included. Many short-story writers are excluded because of the impossibility of tracking both them and their works and of checking to see if they were Australian. That said, 'Australianness' did not trouble me much and I went to no great lengths to prove or disprove it. Those writers describing themselves as Australian in publicly available sources were accepted as such, regardless of questions of naturalisation or citizenship, and taking no account of place of residence or birth. The bibliography therefore includes Australian natives living abroad, such as Rae Palmer Pegus and Lilian Darcy, as well as overseas-born writers living in Australia, such as Kerry Allyne, Rosemary Badger and Valerie Parv. I reluctantly decided to exclude a category which, theoretically at least, should find a place in ANB, namely novels by overseas writers set in Australia. There are a lot of these. The University of Melbourne Library collects romances by Australian authors and titles set in Australia. We had 30 at the time of writing, some of them by the great names in romance fiction, including Mary Burchell, Isobel Chace, Anne Hampson, Madeleine Ker, Roumelia Lane, Margaret Pargeter and Anna Weale as well as New Zealand luminaries like Daphne Clair. My reason for excluding them was once again the impossibility of identifying any but a small proportion. I could catch currently- published titles, of course, by a quick examination, but earlier titles, where I had often to rely on citation alone, were a different matter. It is easy, with hindsight, to see that

Boss of Bali Creek (Anne Hampson), Nurse at Noongwalla (Roumelia Lane) or The

Man at Marralomeda (Hilary Wilde) are likely to be set in Australia, but Boss Man from Ogallala fools me every time I see it. It is by Janet Dailey and set in South Africa. And the titles of some books set in Australia, such as The Doctor's Choice (Hilary Wilde) or Kiss of a Tyrant (Margaret Pargeter) give nothing away. There is a small but significant number of romances by overseas writers, set outside Australia, with Australian heroes. I have found both English and American examples as well as New Zealand ones. Australian heroines are rarer, which seems odd from our parochial perspective-surely, we might think, Australian readers would like to imagine themselves swooning in the arms of a French, Turkish, Greek or Spanish hero. The point, of course, is that although the Australian market for romance is vast, it is a minute proportion of the world market even for romance in English, let alone the market in the 25 other languages into which many English-language romances are translated. For obvious reasons, I did not try to include these in the bibliography, although we do retain those we come across in the University of Melbourne Library collection. Deciding the scope of the bibliography was the easy part. Actually identifying the

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authors was a nightmare and one which proved to me how incomplete the Australian cultural record really is. I began by writing to the two best-known publishers of English-language romance, Harlequin Enterprises (which is the latest name for Mills & Boon, Harlequin and Silhouette) and Robert Hale. Harlequin Enterprises were able to provide me with a small, incomplete list of Australian writers currently working for them. They were not able to go back more than ten years or so and seemed to drop from their memory writers who had not recently published. Still, this was better than Robert Hale. In their prompt and courteous reply to my request for assistance, Mr John Hale said:

I am sorry to say I can see no way whereby we could be of assistance to you. We have over the years published thousands of romantic novels and the only way we can discover which authors are from Australia is to identify which out of the many titles we published were romances and then refer to the individual agreements for the addresses. This would be an enormously time-consuming piece of work and bearing in mind that we do not anticipate publishing any more romances after this year I do not see how we could justify the time and effort involved. I am so sorry.

I could certainly see his point. Of course this kind of problem (provided they keep their computer disks) will not be so insuperable for the publishers of the future. A quick search through a computer file for addresses containing the word 'Australia' will be a doddle. Margaret Murphy's ground-breaking Women Writers and Australia and Debra

Adelaide's Bibliography of Australian Women's Literature 1795-1990, together with

Lord and the Thorpe Who's Who, provided me with a basis, which I supplemented through an exceptionally tedious scan of ANB and BNB. The latter proved in many ways as frustrating as the former. BNB classified the same author over a period of years as British, Australian or just as a fiction writer. Some of those described as Australian proved, on closer examination, to be Canadians, South Africans or New Zealanders. Advertising worked very unpredictably. A paragraph in the Monday 'Help Needed' column in The Age, yielded exactly one response, from a young woman who writes Dolly fiction (among other things) living in Castlemaine, who had been alerted to my search by her brother. A prominently-placed article-complete with a large photograph-in the Sunday Age elicited no reaction. This may have been because it was published between Christmas and New Year, when everyone is at the beach, but I am sure that Alan Attwood, who wrote it, expected more. A snippet in the University of Melbourne Gazette, however, was picked up by VIEW World, the magazine of the Smith Family and, of all things, by the Brisbane Courier Mail. All three brought not only offers of material for the University of Melbourne collection, but also phone calls from numerous authors (many ringing from interstate) anxious to Jearn whether I had heard of them. Mostly I had not, and I bitterly regret now that I was not more careful about taking down personal details as well as noting what they had published. Some of these women certainly had stories to tell, especially about author/publisher relations during the 1950s and 1960s. The use of 'house names' so that several authors were combined serially under a single pseudonym, and the equally interesting practice of controlling the apparent output of one author by arbitrarily allocating a new name to her were ideas which had never occurred to me. They make the life of the bibliographer

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tell their daughters doesn't exist in real life! He's not only a better cook than Alison, but he isn't afraid of vacuum cleaners, washing machines or supermarkets. Which is just as well, otherwise this book would have been written by a starving woman in a pigsty!

Marion Lennox has had a variety of careers-medical receptionist, computer programmer and teacher. Married, with two young children, she now lives in rural Victoria. Her wish for an occupation which would allow her to remain at home with her children, her dog and the budgie led her to attempt writing a novel.

Although I learned from the latest edition of the Thorpe Who's Who that Marion's recreations were 'dishwashing, floor scrubbing, ironing', it was not until I got into personal correspondence with her that I discovered that as well as sharing the childcare, housework and the budgie with her doctor husband, she lectures in computer science at a Victorian university.

Emma Darcy nearly became an actress until her fiance declared he preferred to attend the theatre with her. She became a wife and mother. Later she took up oil painting- unsuccessfully, she remarks. Then she tried architecture, designing the family home in New South Wales.

This biographical fantasy charmingly combines some aspects of the careers of Wendy Brennan and her late husband Frank. You have to read her entry in Twentieth-century Romance and Historical Writers 9 to disentangle them. The fact that Emma figures there at all attests to her importance. There are very few Australian writers listed in a work which is overwhelmingly British and American in bias. One of the most interesting was the case of Victoria Gordon. The indefatigable Margaret Murphy had established that this was a pseudonym. It was the mini- biography in a novel which appeared only after Women Writers and Australia was published that gave me another hint. Victoria, it appears, is the foundation President of the Tasmanian Gundog Trial Association. A conversation with another romance author elicited the information that Victoria tended to stand out a bit at conferences and my suspicions grew. I am indebted to Stella Lees for her suggestion about Victoria's real name and I verified it in the end by a letter to Miss Gordon, c/- her publisher and asking her. Gordon Aalborg' s reply was courtesy itself and he was quite happy to be unmasked in Love Brought to Book, since he probably surmised that it was unlikely to

reach many readers of Age of Consent, Gift Wrapped, A Taxing Affair, Wolf at the

Door, or indeed any of Victoria Gordon's 20 books. Others, however. were adamant, even after I had discovered their real names, that they did not want them listed. If I had found the information from an already published source I disregarded this. If I had found a real name through other means (one of the writers, for instance. sent me a book for the University of Melbourne Library's collection and inadvertently put her real name on the back of the parcel) I did not reveal it without permission. I saw no point in upsetting people, although I hope the time will come when they feel less threatened. I also hope that if and when a second edition of Love Brought to Book is published, some of the writers whom I have listed under their nom de plume without knowing that this was not a real name, will have contacted me with biographical detail. My last biographical snippet is from a Mills & Boon writer who has now moved (for some of her output at least) to Penguin Books:

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Angela Devine grew up in Tasmania surrounded by forests, mountains and wild seas, so she dislikes big cities. Before taking up writing, she worked as a teacher, librarian and university lecturer. As a young mother and PhD student, she read romantic fiction for fun and decided it would be even more fun to write it.

When my book was published she wrote me a charming and encouraging note which read in part

It makes me feel as if we writers have now been legitimised and welcomed into the family home after years of being forlorn, embarrassing bastards abandoned on Australia's literary doorstep.

I suppose that is at least partly what I was trying to do. I mentioned at the beginning of this paper that my bibliography makes no attempt to list variant editions and alluded to differences in the cover art-work as an area which might repay study. Many publishers essentially use the original Mills & Boon covers, merely adding a border. changing the size of the picture, etc, but others use completely new images. What do they reveal? We may look, for example, at the original Man without a Past. with Valerie Parv' s short-haired blonde heroine looking a little uncertain about the tall dark and handsome mystery man gazing so seductively into her eyes. It is a familiar image. but the cover of the Korean edition offers familiarity of a very different order. It shows Clark Gable bent over Vivien Leigh in a pose familiar to all who have seen the posters for Gone with the Wind. What on earth Korean readers imagine Scarlett and Rhett, let alone the flames of Atlanta, have to do with this 20th century Australian story is a matter for speculation. In the English edition of Victoria Gordon's Age of Consent the artist has looked at the text. The heroine is described with hair which is 'medium length, the colour of good bush honey' and the hero is dark, bearded and greying fetchingly at the temples. In the Greek edition, she has dyed her hair black and he has dyed his to contrast. They are shown against a mansion, vaguely Georgian in appearance, set in its own park. This novel is set in Australia and the description of Dane's house is given on page 35:

She could see the house only vaguely in the dim moonlight, and her first impression was of sprawling, long-established permanence. When Dane snapped on a light to show the way down the long footpath to the gate, she got a glimpse of white weatherboards beneath a shroud of vines with carefully-tended flower-beds at their feet.

My point in highlighting this is not merely to suggest that the artist has not read the book: we have all seen too many inappropriate dust-jackets for that to worry us. The point is the way in which the publisher has attempted to Hellenise the image. The same thing occurs in the Greek edition of Victoria Gordon's Cyclone Season. The novel contains plenty of description of the Australian north, but the cover shows a little stone cottage, unlikely, one feels, to be found in Port Hedland. One should not attribute too much significance to these images. However, some day, someone might want to look critically at them. They will have problems, because not only will the collections of these Australian books be scattered all over the globe: there will be no bibliography which brings them together. When she spoke at the launch of Love Brought to Book, Marion Lennox described

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her vision of her 'typical reader'. She's Greek, or Turkish or German. She has caring and often financial responsibilities for children, or parents or siblings or employers. She has, above all, not much personal space or private time; she finds in romance novels escape, fantasy and relaxation; and she is perfectly conscious that this is what she is doing. When I looked around me at the romance writers listening to Marion, I wondered how many of the other guests would have picked these confident, well-educated, well- spoken women as romance novelists rather than executives, professionals or scholars. They seemed to me to have no less right to have their works and as much of their biography as they wished to reveal preserved in the cultural record of Australia, with as much care and consideration as we give to writers of books for children, gardening books, compilations of recipes, political polemic, poetry or detective fiction. In terms of economic if not of literary importance, these writers, paying taxes in Australia on their earnings, must be bringing in at least as many foreign dollars as the others. To dismiss or condemn out of hand, as so many of us do, writing which we have never actually read and whose cultural significance we have done so little to understand, seems to me both crass and foolish. To banish it from the cultural record of the nation by failing to ensure adequate bibliographical listing seems to me to diminish both Australia and its writers.

Notes

J Flesch Love Brought to Book: A Rio-bibliography of 20th Century Australian Romance Novels Melbourne National Centre for Australian Studies 1995

  • 2 Australian Academic & Research libraries vol26 no 4 pp91-2

  • 3 The Australian library Journal vol45 no I February 1996 p63

  • 4 Margaret C Murphy Women Writers and Australia: A Bibliography of Fiction, 19th Century to 1987 Parkville University of Melbourne ubrary 1988

  • 5 Debra Adelaide Bibliography of Australian Women's literature 1795-1990: A listing of Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Non-fiction Published in Monograph Form Arranged Alphabetically by Author Port Melbourne Thorpe in Association with the National Centre for Australian Studies c 1991

  • 6 Who's Who of Australian Writers Port Melbourne D W Thorpe in association with the National Centre for Australian Studies 1995

  • 7 Mary Lord Directory of Australian Authors Carlton National Book Council 1989

  • 8 Graeme Flanagan The Australian Vintage Paperback Guide Brooklyn NY Gryphon Books 1994

  • 9 Twentieth-century Romance and Historical Writers Chicago StJames Press 1990

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