Body in the Vault: The Unpublished Novels of Eve Langley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?

The full text of this essay is available to ALS subscribers

Please sign in to access this article and the rest of our archive.

Published 1 May 1993 in Volume 16 No. 1. Subjects: Australian literature - Manuscripts, Australian women writers, Autobiographies, Gender roles, Sexism, Eve Langley.

Cite as: Frost, Lucy. ‘Body in the Vault: The Unpublished Novels of Eve Langley.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 16, no. 1, 1993, doi: 10.20314/als.2b1bcf6792.