Biography Of A Book: Henry Lawsons While the Billy Boils

Paperback | October 1, 2013

byPaul Eggert

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Biography of a Book traces the life of an iconic Australian literary work in the lead-up to, and for a century after, its initial publication: Henry Lawson's 1896 collection While the Billy Boils. Paul Eggert follows Lawson's gradual development of a pared-back bush realism in the early 1890s, as he struggled to forge a career, writing short stories and sketches for the newspapers. Lawson’s famous collection came out at a decisive moment for the development of a fully professional Australian literary publishing industry, then in its infancy in Sydney. The volume’s editing, design, and production were collaborative events that changed the feel and nature of Lawson’s writing. He had to give ground on the order in which his stories were presented and even on their texts—especially the idiosyncratic wordings that helped breathe life into his characters.

While the Billy Boils went on to be reprinted and repackaged countless times. Its production and reception histories act like a geological cross section, revealing the contours of successive cultural formations in Australia. In unraveling the life of Lawson’s classic work, Eggert’s book-historical approach challenges and clarifies established understandings of crucial moments in Australian literary history and of Lawson himself.

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Biography of a Book traces the life of an iconic Australian literary work in the lead-up to, and for a century after, its initial publication: Henry Lawson's 1896 collection While the Billy Boils. Paul Eggert follows Lawson's gradual development of a pared-back bush realism in the early 1890s, as he struggled to forge a career, writing...

Paul Eggert is an Australian Research Council Professorial Fellow at the University of New South Wales, Canberra.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 8 × 5 × 1 inPublished:October 1, 2013Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271061979

ISBN - 13:9780271061979

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“Eggert carefully unpacks the multiple complexities of negotiating authorial reputation in a UK-dominated marketplace, offering insight into how Angus and Robertson sought to claim a place for Australian-based publishing through robust management of Lawson’s fresh and engaging work, while at the same time contextualizing these negotiations within larger social and cultural movements and evaluations. [Biography of a Book] is a valuable study that makes a strong case for infusing book history and bibliographically informed processes into literary critical evaluation.”—David Finkelstein, English Studies