Body in the Vault: The Unpublished Novels of Eve Langley
Within the Mitchell Library inside the State Library of New South Wales lie the manuscripts of ten novels submitted by Eve Langley to Angus & Robertson, and never published. Like the body in some long-forgotten murder, the Langley corpus remains shut away, immured. How did this happen? Why should the words of a woman whose first novel was The Pea-Pickers meet such a fate? The Pea-Pickers, after all, made a spectacular debut. In manuscript it shared first place in the prestigious Prior Prize in 1940, passing the keen eyes of judges like H.M. Green. Two years later it was published by Angus & Robertson at a time when the war made paper scarce and publishing lists strictly limited. Reviewers raved. Douglas Stewart, who as editor of the Bulletin's 'Red Page' guarded Australian literary taste and values, penned his praise in the form of a letter to Shakespeare in which he sends along Langley's novel to that ultimate gatekeeper as evidence that Australia does have a literature of its own because it can boast classics. So why was only one further Langley novel (White Topee) published?
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