Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Australian and New Zealand Literature in the University of London Research Library Services

Australian and New Zealand Literature in the ULRLS
(notes for a presentation given at the 2010 ANZLAG workshop)


The collections of Australian and New Zealand literature in Senate House Library(SHL) form part of the English Language & Literature Collection. The English collection at SHL is the central resource for English Studies in the University of London, supporting teaching and research at all levels. The collection covers the traditional English Literary canon from the earliest period to the present day. Particular strengths of the collection are old and middle English, Shakespeare and the Renaissance and the Victorian and Edwardian novel.

Scope of collections

The primary geographic focus of the English collection is literature written in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The literature of the United States and the Caribbean is covered by the US and Latin American area studies collections respectively. English-language writers of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Anglophone Africa and Anglophone South-East Asia are represented, although not comprehensively.

Australian and New Zealand literature is located within the English Collection within a classmark for ‘International literatures in English’ (YS), Australian – YSR, New Zealand - YSS.

Types of material held

The majority of the collection comprises primary works of literature and research monographs of literary criticism. The collecting policy for English literature is to purchase everything by the selected authors, although this has not always have been consistently maintained.

Examples of Australian authors held:

The Australian High Commission Library holds 20th C editions of some early 19th C works by Henry Savery, James Tucker and Charles Harpur.

19th C: Henry Kendall, Adam Lindsay Gordon, Marcus Clarke

19th-20th: Henry Lawson, A. B. Paterson

Early 20th: Henry Handel Richardson (real name Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson), Miles Franklin (female), Vance and Nettie Palmer, John Shaw Neilson

Mid 20th C onwards: A. D. Hope, Shirley Hazzard, Judith Wright, Patrick White, Barbara Hanrahan, Elizabeth Jolly, Thomas Keneally, Les Murray, Helen Garner, David Malouf, Kate Grenville, Peter Carey.

Australian High Commission Library

The Australia House Library existed from 1918 to 1994 (when the collection was transferred (largely) to the University of London’s Senate House Library). It is particularly strong in coverage of post 1945 works of poetry and fiction and periodical runs, as the library underwent a period of reorganisation and growth, as prior to 1972 material was supplied by the National Library of Australia in Canberra – with some additional donations. The book collection is particularly strong in Australian fiction, poetry and literary criticism particularly from the 1950s and 1960s. The library then catered for Australians overseas and intending migrants and formed a strong general collection of Australiana. In 1972 responsibility for the library transferred to the Dept of Foreign Affairs – and the direct link with the NLA was severed. The library focused from then onwards on Dept of Foreign Affairs priorities and perspectives.
The Institute of Commonwealth Studies collection generally does not hold literature but includes a notable special collection of the works of Frank Clune – popular travel, adventure and history writer. The Commonwealth Studies library is however a useful source for understanding the social and historic conetxt of Australian (and New Zealand) writing.

New Zealand Literature

The New Zealand literature collection is smaller and is almost entirely 20th C:

Authors include Fleur Adcock, Barbara Anderson, James K Baxter, Charles Brasch, Allen Curnow, Walter D’Arcy Cresswell, Ruth Dallas, Dan Davin, Marilyn Duckworth, Janet Frame, Maurice Gee, Denis Glover, Robin Hyde, Frank Sargeson, Maurice Shadbolt, Kendrick Smithyman, C.K. Stead, Denys Trussell, and Noel Virtue. (Katherine Mansfield is also covered in the main English collection).

An evaluation of holdings of NZ authors against the bibliography chapter of The Oxford History of New Zealand Literature in English (1998) found that although rarely were holdings comprehensive for any author it was pleasing to see that (if one excluded writers of works for children and romantic novels) there was only an occasional author missing in the collections and a representative coverage of most. A recent donation from Professor John Pocock increased coverage for the 1950s to 1970s and included many small press works.


The collection also includes a number of general histories and histories of literary genres such as The Cambridge History of Australian Literature edited by Peter Pierce (Cambridge University Press, 2009) and The Oxford History of New Zealand Literature in English edited by Terry Sturm (Oxford University Press, 1998). There are a number of anthologies for both Australian and New Zealand literatures.

In order to aid research the library holds printed reference works, including bibliographies, these include specific titles such The Oxford Literary Guide to Australia edited by Peter Pierce (Oxford University Press, 1993) and The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature edited by Roger Robinson (Oxford University Press, 1998).
The print collections are complemented by electronic resources that cover literature more generally, including Australia & New Zealand, such as Literature Online (LION) and the MLA Bibliography.

The ULRLS also holds critical and reference material on postcolonial and comparative literature in general which will also be relevant. Examples include the Encyclopedia of post-colonial literatures in English edited by Eugene Benson and L.W. Conolly. (Routledge, 2005), Postcolonial literatures in English by Richard Lever et al (Prentice Hall, 1996).


ULRLS has a fairly comprehensive collection of scholarly periodicals covering English Language and literature and Literary Studies in general. Specific titles of relevance include Australian Literary Studies, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Journal of New Zealand Literature (online only), Kunapipi, Meanjin Quarterly and Southerly.

In addition to these specific titles many of the English and Comparative Literature periodicals will include literature of New Zealand and Australia in their coverage eg Comparative Literature, Review of English Studies, Wasafiri.

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