This issue of Queensland Review, our second with Cambridge University Press, consists of two autobiographical reflections on Queensland in the 1950s, followed by six scholarly articles on various aspects of Queensland history – musical, literary, legal, architectural and institutional.
In the opening memoir, ‘“Aper than ape”: A 1950s teenage memoir’, Raymond Evans, one of the best known historians of Queensland and author of the acclaimed A history of Queensland (2007), reflects on the advent of rock'n'roll in Brisbane in the second half of the 1950s, just as he was entering adolescence. While its devotees were harassed incessantly by adults who regarded the new musical genre as a form of delinquency, rock'n'roll rapidly permeated the everyday lives of Evans's generation and marked the beginning of a new Zeitgeist: ‘Things were always changing, but now change was getting faster and more unpredictable. You could feel it at school, in the way classmates were changing. You could feel it in yourself. Change was all around, but it was also inside of us.’
Patrick Buckridge, slightly younger than Evans, focuses on the natural environment in his evocation of a 1950s childhood. His encounters with trees – Bunya pines, cottonwoods, Moreton Bay figs, mangoes, poincianas, eucalyptuses – provide opportunities to reflect on the ways in which social meanings accrete to various species. Bunya pines and Moreton Bay figs tend to play public, institutional roles, while mangoes and poincianas are private, ‘class-marked’ trees. In ‘Encounters with trees: A life with leaves in the Brisbane suburbs’, a tale of two poincianas provides an ironic gloss on aspirations to upward social mobility. This essay also contributes to an important genre in Queensland writing, where ‘culture’ and ‘nature’ constantly inform each other, rather than operating as antitheses.
In ‘Music by the few for the many: Chamber music in colonial Queensland’, Peter Roennfeldt explores an under-researched area of concert-giving in colonial Queensland. His article traces the development of chamber music through evidence of both longer-term initiatives and the contributions of visiting artists. Pianist Madame Henrietta Mallalieu (later Mrs Willmore) and violinist Richard Thomas Jefferies figure prominently, as do numerous German- and Italian-born colonists, several of whom established virtual musical dynasties which figure across many decades of Queensland's musical history. Roennfeldt also explores the availability of suitable infrastructure and, in particular, performance venues, some of which remain in use today. The digitised newspaper collections available through ‘Trove’ on the National Library of Australia website were an invaluable source for Roennfeldt's research.
More evidence of the significance of ‘Trove’ for researchers is provided by Leigh Dale's article, ‘“Tinned literature”? Literary discussion in The Brisbane Courier (1930)’. Dale's work is part of a larger ARC-funded project, ‘Resourceful reading’, on the representation of literature in Australian newspapers from 1930. Historians of literary culture in Queensland have previously paid little attention to newspapers as sources of insight into the ways in which books were circulated and evaluated. Discussion of books and reading in The Brisbane Courier took various forms in 1930: book reviews in the ‘Books of the Week’ column, reports of literary activities in Brisbane, news and discussion of international literary events and figures, and literary essays. Dale's analysis reveals the jostling and overlapping in The Brisbane Courier of competing notions of the value of literature, and of conceptions of writing as a profession.
In ‘Trauma, memory and landscape in Queensland: Women writing “a new alphabet of moss and water”‘, Jessica Gildersleeve argues that Jessica Anderson, Janette Turner Hospital and Vivienne Cleven claim the Queensland landscape and its disturbances ‘as a topographical narrative of their own response to trauma and oppression’. In the work of the two older, non-Indigenous writers – Anderson and Turner Hospital – she identifies a narrative strategy of creating symbolic landscapes as sites of emancipatory or reparative fantasy in response to trauma. Cleven's Indigenous voice brings a new perspective, recasting the fantasy ‘as site of revenge rather than escape’, and repositioning the white reader as sympathiser rather than empathiser through engagement with the position of Otherness usually occupied by non-white Australians. The subtitle of the article is a reference to Hospital's short story, ‘The Last of the Hapsburgs’, where the protagonist responds to the violation of a utopia by realising that women ‘will have to invent a new alphabet of moss and water’. For Gildersleeve, Cleven's novel, Her sister's eye (2002), exemplifies a way of realising Turner Hospital's vision of finding a ‘new alphabet’.Footnote 1
With ‘South Brisbane's cultural hub: From Post and Telegraph to Griffith Film School’, Bill Metcalf supplies the missing link in the history of the extant built environment of the old city of South Brisbane. Metcalf has published histories of the Ship Inn and South Brisbane Memorial Park, while the histories of the Dry Dock, Cumbooquepa and South Brisbane City Hall have been written up by others. In addition, Metcalf has published a short biographical account of Dr Thomas Pennington Lucas, the best-known resident of what is now South Brisbane Memorial Park, and the inventor of Lucas Papaw Ointment. In his latest article, Metcalf traces the history of the colonial building that now houses the Griffith Film School, from its origins as the South Brisbane Post and Telegraph Office through its long period of service as the South Brisbane Library and Technical College.
Geoffrey Genever examines a very different colonial legacy in ‘“Worse than murder”? Colonial Queensland's response to the rape of European women by Aboriginal men’. The fact that, of the sixteen men tried, convicted and hanged for the crime of rape in Queensland in the second half of the nineteenth century, twelve were Aboriginal has led some scholars to conclude that racism was enshrined in the judicial system. (The rape of Aboriginal women by white men, considered ‘widespread’ by Genever, is outside the scope of this article.) Genever's analysis reveals that the rules of law and legal procedure generally were observed in the trials of Aboriginal men for rape, and that white women who accused Aboriginal men of rape were sometimes found to be unreliable witnesses. Genever also draws attention to the fact that agitation to abolish the death penalty in Queensland began immediately after Separation. In 1900, Queensland removed rape from the list of crimes that attracted capital punishment, and in 1922 Queensland became the first Australian state or territory, and the eighth jurisdiction worldwide, to abolish capital punishment.
The background to the introduction in Queensland of a new mechanism of accountability – the office of the State Ombudsman – in 1974 is explored by David Turton in ‘A “super Bureaucrat” to the rescue? Push and pull factors in the creation of the Queensland Ombudsman, 1963–74’. Turton traces the context of the creation of this new office: growing support around the Western world for a new form of accountability, deep suspicion within the Queensland public service of such a role, the initial opposition and subsequent change of heart of Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, and the role of lobby groups and academics. He also discusses the choice of David Longland, a career public servant rather than an outsider, as a controversial compromise that paid off handsomely: Longland gave the office the credibility needed for longevity.
Attentive readers will have noted some changes to the editorship and Advisory Board of Queensland Review. Coinciding with our move to Cambridge University Press at the beginning of the year, historian Yorick Smaal joined the existing editors of Queensland Review, Patrick Buckridge and Belinda McKay, as a third editor, and membership of the Advisory Board was expanded to include a broader range of expertise. Next year, literary scholar Jessica Gildersleeve will take on the role of Book Reviews Editor. Scholars emerging as important new voices in Queensland studies are now better represented.
We are grateful to the School of Humanities at Griffith University, and to Cambridge University Press, for their support of Queensland Review as we complete our nineteenth year of continuous publication. To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Queensland Review in 2013, we have invited contributions from a number of academics who have shaped Queensland studies over the past two decades, as well as from younger scholars taking this field in new directions.