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Picking up the pieces: The Nambour Chronicle and the construction of a regional reading culture, 1920–50

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 November 2017

Patrick Buckridge*
Affiliation:
p.buckridge@griffith.edu.au
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Abstract

Given that the Sunshine Coast and its hinterland have been, at least for a time, the haunt of several of several eminent Australian writers — the Palmers, Dark, Herbert, Astley, Wright, Cato, Williamson and Carey, to name a few — it seemed worth asking whether the principal, and for most of the twentieth century the only, newspaper servicing the region since 1903 — the Nambour Chronicle and the North Coast Advertiser — was part of a literary culture to which these writers felt they belonged and were contributing in the first half of the century. If not, why not? And if so, what kinds of contributions did it make to that culture? The tentative finding is that while the Chronicle did not make the kinds of direct, ‘homegrown’ contributions that some other metropolitan and provincial newspapers did, it maintained a literary presence and function by means of a regular diet of imported features, and by its particularly close and consistent relationship with the Nambour Town Library (and also, less consistently, with various School of Arts libraries in the district). The continuing connection between these two Nambour institutions — the Chronicle and the library — was personal and familial as well as civic in nature, and clearly suited the literary demands and expectations of a highly dispersed community that found its unity and identity by other means.

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Copyright © The Author(s) 2017 

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References

1 Morgan, Patrick, ‘The literature of Gippsland’, Westerly, 31.1 (1986), 2844 Google Scholar. See also, for example, Putnis, Peter (ed.), Downs images: Essays, stories and poems from the Darling Downs (Toowoomba: Darling Downs Institute Press, 1981)Google Scholar; Taylor, Cheryl, ‘Shaping a regional identity: Literary non-fiction and short fiction in North Queensland’, Queensland Review 8.2 (2001), 4152 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 Buckridge, Patrick, ‘“Something that makes us ponder”: A virtual book club in Central Queensland, 1928–1938’, Queensland Review, 22.1 (2015), 1529 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3 Buckridge, Patrick, ‘Rescuing reading: Strategies for arresting the decline of reading in Western Australian newspapers between the wars’, Australian Literary Studies, 29.3 (2014), 101–15Google Scholar.

4 In addition to the NLA's Trove database, which covers the period 1922 to 1954, the Chronicle has its own website and searchable database, covering the period 1903 to 1958, at http://www.nambour-chronicle.com/index.php.

5 Support can be found for at least four different pronunciations of this venerable English surname: Thin, Thinny, Thine, Tine. I do not know how the Nambour family (who were of Irish descent) pronounced it.

6 Kirkpatrick, Rod, Sworn to no master: A history of the provincial press in Queensland to 1930 (Toowoomba: Darling Downs Institute Press, 1984), pp. 297–8Google Scholar.

7 [Alexander Thynne], ‘Farewell editorial’, Nambour Chronicle, 2 March 1923, 5.

8 [Cecil McFadden], ‘The “Chronicle”’, Nambour Chronicle, 9 March,1923, 4.

9 ‘Progress Association to have definite interest: Mapleton's record’, Nambour Chronicle, 1 March 1940, 7.

10 For example, ‘Ugly Man Competition’, Nambour Chronicle, 16 March 1923, 5. Ugly Man competitions were run by the Ugly Men's Voluntary Workers’ Association, a charitable organisation established in Western Australia in 1917 and dissolved in 1948: https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/wa/WE00386. The Association was active in Queensland as well as WA, less so in the rest of Australia.

11 See, for example, ‘Books and magazines for distribution’, Nambour Chronicle, 16 June 1933, 2. For a useful and entertaining overview of the Queensland Bush Book Club, see Wagner, Robin, ‘“A blood-stained corpse in the butler's pantry”: The Queensland Bush Book Club’, Queensland Review, 18.1 (2011), 125 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

12 Nambour Chronicle, 28 March 1930, 5. The only other mentions of the Palmers, who lived and worked in Caloundra for three and a half years (1925–29) are brief social notes when they left for Melbourne in early 1929 (Nambour Chronicle, 15 February 1929) and returned for a long visit in 1954 (Nambour Chronicle, 20 August 1954).

13 ‘“Jacaranda blooms” and other poems’, Nambour Chronicle, 11 January 1923, 6.

14 See, for example, ‘Wit, wisdom and folly/from books I have read (collected by George Sutton)’, Nambour Chronicle, 1 March 1935, 13. (Publishers named in the columns are Hutchinson — the vast majority; Stanley Paul; Hurst & Blackett; Skeffington; Jarrolds; John Long; Selwyn & Blount; Melrose; and Denis Archer.)

15 ‘Power of Dickens’, Nambour Chronicle, 24 August 1923, 5.

16 ‘Women's column/feminine charm/“infinite variety”’, Nambour Chronicle, 21 December 1923, 12.

17 ‘Prime minister's solace/Mr Chamberlain's choice of literature’, Nambour Chronicle, 7 July 1939, 2.

18 ‘Authors’ tastes revealed in books’, Nambour Chronicle, 28 December 1923, 7.

19 For example, ‘Our Sydney letter/censorship of books’, Nambour Chronicle, 1 February 1935, 2.

20 ‘Tax on books/position of public libraries’, Nambour Chronicle, 3 January 1930, 6.

21 ‘Starting point/suitable literature/training in primary schools’, Nambour Chronicle, 7 November 1930, 6.

22 ‘Australian literature/a wealth of material/“romance at our door”’, Nambour Chronicle, 30 September 1927, 7.

23 ‘Women's sphere/interest and aims’, Nambour Chronicle, 23 February 1940, 2.

24 Two partial exceptions should be noted: a Play Reading Group was set up under the auspices of the Board of Adult Education in Mooloolah in the early 1950s (Nambour Chronicle, 21 March 1952, 6), and in 1954 a ‘new art club covering music, drama, literature, writing, [and] painting’ was set up by one Patricia Garrad in Glasshouse (Nambour Chronicle, 20 August 1954, 9). Eric Dark (accompanied by Eleanor, ‘Australia's best-known writer’, gave a one-off talk on ‘Peace and War’ under the auspices of the Maroochy District Peace Movement at the Maroochydore Friendly Societies’ Hall (Nambour Chronicle, 7 December 1951, 7).

25 ‘Nambour's greatest fire/seventeen business places demolished/damage estimated at £70,000’, Nambour Chronicle, 11 January 1924, 7; ‘Looking back/Nambour's fire in 1914’, Nambour Chronicle, 11 January 1924, 9.

26 ‘Rebuilding proposals/Nambour Town Library/adjourned annual meeting’, Nambour Chronicle, 28 February 1930, 1.

27 ‘Town Library plans/future expansion’, Nambour Chronicle, 8 March 1946; ‘Govt Subsidy on Book Purchases’, Nambour Chronicle, 12 March 1948.

28 ‘Nambour Town Library annual meeting/ten years of steady progress’, Nambour Chronicle, 14 December 1923, 6. See also the long welcome to the district to Thynne and his family in the Chronicle, 8 September 1905, 4. I have been unable to source a portrait of Thynne, but he appears in Figure 5 — the tall man with the white broad-brimmed hat, second from the left.

29 ‘Town Library's fortieth year/improved service’, Nambour Chronicle, 6 March 1953, 5.

30 See, for example, ‘Town Library's Semi-Jubilee/Committee's annual report’, Nambour Chronicle, 10 February 1939; ‘Selection of library literature in war-time’, Nambour Chronicle, 2 February 1940; ‘Year of steady progress’, Nambour Chronicle, 2 March 1944; ‘Town Library’ Reference Section. 36th annual meeting’, Nambour Chronicle, 25 February 1949.

31 Brian F. Stevenson, ‘Thynne, Andrew Joseph (1847–1927)’, Australian dictionary of biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/thynne-andrew-joseph-8812/text15457, published first in hardcopy 1990.

32 ‘Fifty years in law’, Nambour Chronicle, 12 December 1947, 5.

33 ‘Nambour's greatest fire’, Nambour Chronicle, 11 January 1924, 8.

34 ‘One hundred acres [were] transferred to the former Landsborough Shire Council in 1941 by sisters Elizabeth, Mabel and Mary Thynne . . . through a Deed of Trust, with the aim of preserving the rainforest in perpetuity, and honouring their mother Mary Thynne (née Cairncross). See http://www.mary-cairncross.com.au/history-of-mary-cairncross.php. More information on Alexander Thynne can be found in a brief and charming memoir, ‘Maleny memories’, written by his third daughter, Mary (Wilma), in 1981 about her family's time in Maleny before their move to Nambour in 1905. See http://www.historicalsocietymaleny.com/uploads/2/3/9/6/23964979/maleny_memories_-_wilmas_story_1905.pdf.

35 ‘Town Library's fortieth year/improved service’, Nambour Chronicle, 6 March 1953, 5.

36 Buckridge, P., ‘Roles for writers: Brisbane and literature, 1859–1975’, in Buckridge, Patrick and McKay, Belinda (eds), By the book: A literary history of Queensland (Brisbane: University of Queensland Press, 2007), p. 48 Google Scholar.

37 These are, of course, Mechanics’ Institutes, nearly always called Schools of Art in Queensland.

38 ‘Caboolture School of Arts/annual meeting’, Nambour Chronicle, 1 February 1929, 8.

39 ‘Maleny/School of Arts’, Nambour Chronicle, 1 August 1924, 3.

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