'Altogether better-bred looking': Race and Romance in the Australian Novels of Rosa Praed

Platt, Len. 2008. 'Altogether better-bred looking': Race and Romance in the Australian Novels of Rosa Praed. Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, 8, pp. 31-44. ISSN 1447-8986 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Rosa Praed once had a reputation for being something of a radical. Ranging in
her novels from staunch support of the squatterarchy to sentimental sympathy
for the common man, her political instincts were basically paternalist and
landlordist, but for all the general conservatism she was typically understood
as an independent spirit, a straight talker unafraid of challenging convention
especially where her sense of justice was at stake. In the 1980s when a small
selection from her prodigious output was reprinted in the Pandora Australian
Women Writers series, the idea of Praed as a prototype feminist and a
champion of black causes was strongly mooted. Pam Gilbert’s introduction
to Lady Bridget in Th e Never-Never Land (1915), for example, claimed that
the chief protagonists of that novel were ‘women who think, argue, make
decisions for themselves, value independence and acquire it’ (vii). Dale
Spender’s introduction to Outlaw and Lawmaker (1893) similarly saw Praed
exploring ‘some of the injustices of the world’ (xi). In her brief biographical
account in A Bright and Fiery Troop, Spender gave this exploration a specific
racial dimension: ‘Years before it became acceptable to appreciate the culture
of these persecuted people [the Aborigines]’, she wrote, ‘Rosa Praed was not
only including them as characters in her novels but was eloquently pleading
their case for justice and dignity’ (202).

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature



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Date Deposited:

13 Aug 2010 10:43

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:49

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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