Early Australian Poetry and its Bibliographers


Students of Australian cultural history have long been curiously reluctant to analyse the whole body of early Australian poetry. Here I should like to suggest that with the publication of the fourth volume of Sir John Ferguson's invaluable Bibliography of Australia in 1955, and excepting only the addenda to his forthcoming volume, the listing of all poetry separately published before 1850 is virtually complete. Ferguson has not included poetry published after 1850 because of the comprehensiveness of E. Morris Miller's two-volume Australian Literature from its Beginnings to 1935 (Melbourne, 1940), a comprehensiveness that continues to astound anyone reading in the period, and which is amply confirmed by close comparison of Ferguson's entries with those of Miller. Such a comparison also suggests a projected high degree of accuracy and completeness for his entries after 1850. Thanks to the work of these two men, no longer may we regret (with Robert Southey in his 'Botany Bay Eclogues') 'all the perils of a world unknown'.

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Published 1 October 1969 in Volume 4 No. 2. Subjects: Australian literature - Bibliographies, Broadsides (Broadsheets), Popular & folk poetry.

Cite as: Nesbitt, Bruce. ‘Early Australian Poetry and its Bibliographers.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 4, no. 2, 1969, doi: 10.20314/als.9a3764f0d0.