My note on 'Starting ALS' which appeared in a recent issue (19.4, October 2000) was a preliminary to telling readers that I shall be retiring as editor. In 2002, Dr Leigh Dale of the University of Queensland, at present reviews editor, will be taking over.
In 'Starting ALS' I sketched the circumstances of its founding and its aims as a professional scholarly journal of literary history and criticism, also providing biographical, bibliographical and other information, with the fundamental aim of seeing literature in the context of its times and of relating this to the changing ' present' .
It is not my purpose here in the 39th year of ALS to survey the ways in which it tried to achieve these aims. Rather I would like briefly to compare the state of studies in Australian literature as I remember it when the journal started and how I see it in the present. The journal's appearance coincided with the first main growth in the secondary and tertiary teaching of Australian literature as well as a growth in the production of Australian books and a growing audience for them. ALS was able, then, to draw on a belief, indeed an enthusiastic one, that there was much useful work to be done in research and criticism, and that an audience, not large but sufficient for it, was growing up. This quickened in the seventies when university expansion allowed more opportunity for the study of the national literature.