The state of play in Australian fairy tale: where to now?

Do Rozario, Rebecca-Anne and Sulway, Nike ORCID: and Calderone, Belinda (2017) The state of play in Australian fairy tale: where to now? TEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Programs, Special Issue 43. pp. 1-5.


At the turn of the last century, writers like Atha Westbury and Hume Cook were asking whether Australia had its own fairies, its own fairy tale lore. They attempted to fill the perceived lack of traditional fairy-tale narratives with their own published works of fairy tale. The titles authors chose for their collections – for instance, Olga Ernst’s Fairy tales from the land of the wattle and Annette Kellermann’s Fairy tales of the south seas and other stories – often revealed an overt wish to build a fairy-tale tradition that was distinctly and uniquely Australian. While some of these tales simply relocated existing European tales to the Australian context, most used classic fairy-tale tropes and themes to create new adventures. Other writers and collectors, like K Langloh-Parker, Sister Agnes and Andrew Lang, sought to present Indigenous tales as examples of local folk and fairy tales – a project of flawed good intentions grounded in colonial appropriation. These early Australian publications are largely forgotten and, in many ways, the erasure or forgetting of narratives that were often infused with colonial attitudes to gender, class, race, is far from regrettable. And yet there was a burgeoning local tradition of magical storytelling spearheaded by the delicate fairies of Ida Rentoul Outhwaite’s brush and the gumnut babies of May Gibbs that celebrated the Australian environment, its flora and fauna, populating and decorating new tales for the nation’s children.

Statistics for USQ ePrint 37188
Statistics for this ePrint Item
Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Issue theme: Into the bush: Australasian fairy tales. Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Arts and Communication (1 Jul 2013 - 28 Feb 2019)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2019 06:12
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2020 05:01
Uncontrolled Keywords: fairy tales, Australian literature, speculative fiction, colonial literature, postcolonial literature
Fields of Research (2008): 19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing > 190402 Creative Writing (incl. Playwriting)
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200502 Australian Literature (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Literature)

Actions (login required)

View Item Archive Repository Staff Only