Review of John Lang: Australia's Larrikin Writer and Australia Imagined: Views from the British Periodical Press 1800- 1900

In the first book of the John Lang Project, John Lang: Australia's Larrikin Writer. Barrister, Novelist, Journalist and Gentleman, author Victor Crittenden claims that Lang is 'the most important of our first novelists' (xii) because Lang wrote Australia's first ' international ' bestseller, Violet the Danseuse: A Portraiture o f Human Passion and Character (1836). Violet was written by a young Lang who had been dabbling in poetry and short stories for some time. While the novel enjoyed overseas success (it was reprinted in Paris, Brussels, Frankfurt and the USA), Lang could not enjoy the success publicly because too many of the characters were suspiciously similar to colonial identities, not the least being his employers, the Wentworths. Lang even went so far as to name one protagonist D'Arcy (after William Charles Wentworth's father). Fired with the enthusiasm his novel attracted, Lang travelled to the UK, ostensibly to study for the bar. But he was too much of a currency lad and was soon in trouble; he was expelled from Cambridge for his 'Botany Bay' tricks (38). From then on it seems that Lang was his own worst enemy, managing to alienate powerful friends upon his return to Australia, and so he decided India would be healthier for his career - I guess one colony's as good as another.

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Published 1 May 2007 in Volume 23 No. 1. Subjects: Colonial literature & writers, Periodicals.

Cite as: Johnson-Woods, Toni. ‘Review of John Lang: Australia's Larrikin Writer and Australia Imagined: Views from the British Periodical Press 1800- 1900.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 23, no. 1, 2007. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.e594b07707.