‘Botany Bay Litterateur’ : D.H. Deniehy’s Literary Criticism

Paradoxically, Daniel Henry Deniehy has not receded as far from the memory of historians as he has from the memory of literary historians. This situation is ironic since he was more remarkable to his contemporaries as a literary critic and as a promoter of the arts. Y et what engages the attention of modern historians is his political activity, his failure in which led to his being thought of little account in his own generation. H. M. Green1 and Walter Murdoch2 arc the only literary commentators who have paid him more than passing attention. Green recognized his literary worth and commented on his writing with accuracy and insight, but was restricted by the poor source on which he was forced to rely, E. A. Martin's edition of essays, The Life and Speeches of Daniel Henry Deniehy. Miss Martin was seriously afflicted with two diseases common to historians of her era: a tendency to idolize, to write hagiography; and a 'delicacy' which led her to 'purify' and emasculate Deniehy's speeches and writings. Thus her edition of essays, with its numerous omissions, rewritings and injudicious additions, is a far from reliable source for assessing Deniehy. Rife with errors, with fanciful fabrications upon flimsy evidence, and partisan zealotry of the most unthinking kind, it was, until B. T. Dowd published his research in 1947.4 the basis for many an article and for many false notions about Deniehy. Normington-Rawling5 and Dowd deserve credit for having undertaken the arduous task of finding the facts: the accounts given by both, however, lack interpretative skill, and have only slightly modified Martin's estimation of Deniehy, toning it down to accommodate the modern distaste for unqualified adulation.

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Published 1 October 1979 in Volume 9 No. 2. Subjects: Literary criticism, Literary influences.

Cite as: Devlin-Glass, Frances. ‘‘Botany Bay Litterateur’ : D.H. Deniehy’s Literary Criticism.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 9, no. 2, 1979. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.08cbe47a0b.