Authors: Miles Franklin
Tags: #Fiction, #Literary
Allen & Unwin's House of Books aims to bring Australia's cultural and literary heritage to a broad audience by creating affordable print and ebook editions of the nation's most significant and enduring writers and their work. The fiction, non-fiction, plays and poetry of generations of Australian writers that were published before the advent of ebooks will now be available to new readers, alongside a selection of more recently published books that had fallen out of circulation.
The House of Books is an eloquent collection of Australia's finest literary achievements.
Stella Miles Franklin was born in the Australian bush in 1879. By the age of twenty, Miles Franklin had completed her first novel,
My Brilliant Career.
After it was rejected by local publishers, she sent it to Henry Lawson, who called it âthe first great Australian novel'. He wrote a preface for it and helped her to get it published in Britain in 1901. The sequel,
My Career Goes Bung,
was written in 1900 but was not published until 1946, considered too audacious and perhaps too revealing of its creator's own persona for publication.
Miles' early success gave her entree to literary and socialist circles in Sydney and Melbourne. By 1906 she decided to travel overseas, and went to work for the women's labour movement in Chicago. In 1915 she relocated to London and worked for various feminist and progressive causes, all the while continuing to write. A prolific author of plays as well as novels and archetypal bush stories, she often submitted work under pseudonyms that she guarded fiercely all her life. In the 1930s she returned to Australia and determined to take up the cause of Australian writing and writers. Her endowment of the Miles Franklin literary award not only surprised all who knew her, but founded an Australian literary institution that remains our most prestigious.
This edition published by Allen & Unwin House of Books in 2012
First published in Scotland by William Blackwood and Sons 1901
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. The Australian
Copyright Act 1968
(the Act) allows a maximum of one chapter or 10 per cent of this book, whichever is the greater, to be photocopied by any educational institution for its educational purposes provided that the educational institution (or body that administers it) has given a remuneration notice to Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) under the Act.
Allen & Unwin
Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, London
83 Alexander Street
Crows Nest NSW 2065
Phone:Â Â Â (61 2) 8425 0100
Fax:Â Â Â Â Â Â Â (61 2) 9906 2218
Email:Â Â Â Â [email protected]
Web:Â Â Â Â Â
Cataloguing-in-Publication details are available from the National Library of Australia
ISBN 978 1 74331 241 4 (pbk)
ISBN 978 1 74269 944 8 (ebook)
MY BRILLIANT CAREER
A few months before I left Australia I got a letter from the bush signed “Miles Franklin,” saying that the writer had written a novel, but knew nothing of editors and publishers, and asking me to read and advise. Something about the letter, which was written in a strong original hand, attracted me, so I sent for the MS, and one dull afternoon I started to read it. I hadn't read three pages when I saw what you will no doubt see at onceâthat the story had been written by a girl. And as I went on I saw that the work was Australianâborn of the bush. I don't know about the girlishly emotional parts of the bookâI leave that to girl readers to judge; but the descriptions of bush life and scenery came startlingly, painfully real to me, and I know that, as far as they are concerned, the book is true to Australiaâthe truest I ever read. I wrote to Miles Franklin, and she confessed that she was a girl. I saw her before leaving Sydney. She is just a little bush girl, barely twenty-one yet, and has scarcely ever been out of the bush in her life. She has lived her book, and I feel proud of it for the sake of the country I came from, where people toil and bake and suffer and are kind; where every second sun-burnt bushman is a sympathetic humorist, with the sadness of the bush deep in his eyes and a brave grin for the worst of times, and where every third bushman is a poet, with a big heart that keeps his pockets empty.
Â Â Â Â England, April 1901
Possum Gully, near Goulburn,
N.S. Wales, Australia, 1st March, 1899
MY DEAR FELLOW AUSTRALIANS,
Just a few lines to tell you that this story is all about myselfâfor no other purpose do I write it.
I make no apologies for being egotistical. In this particular I attempt an improvement on other autobiographies. Other autobiographies weary one with excuses for their egotism. What matters it to you if I am egotistical? What matters it to you, though it should matter, that I am egotistical?
This is not a romanceâI have too often faced the music of life to the tune of hardship to waste time in snivelling and gushing over fancies and dreams; neither is it a novel, but simply a yarnâa
yarn. Oh! As real, as really realâprovided life itself is anything beyond a heartless little chimeraâit is as real in its weariness and bitter heartache as the tall gum trees, among which I first saw the light, are real in their stateliness and substantiality.
My sphere in life is not congenial to me. Oh, how I hate this living death which has swallowed all my teens, which is greedily devouring my youth, which will sap my prime, and in which my old age, if I am cursed with any, will be worn away! As my life creeps on forever through the long toil-laden days with its agonizing monotony, narrowness, and absolute uncongeniality, how my spirit frets and champs its unbreakable fettersâall in vain!
You can dive into this story headfirst as it were. Do not fear encountering such trash as descriptions of beautiful sunsets and whisperings of wind. We (999 out of every 1,000) can see naught in sunsets save as signs and tokens whether we may expect rain on the morrow or the contrary, so we will leave such vain and foolish imagining to those poets and paintersâpoor fools! Let us rejoice that we are not of their temperament!
Better be born a slave than a poet, better be born a black, better be born a cripple! For a poet must be companionlessâalone!
alone in the midst of his fellows whom he loves. Alone because his soul is as far above common mortals as common mortals are above monkeys.
There is no plot in this story, because there has been none in my life or in any other life which has come under my notice. I am one of a class, the individuals of which have not time for plots in their life, but have all they can do to get their work done without indulging in such a luxury.
“Boo, hoo! Ow, ow; Oh! Oh! Me'll die. Boo, hoo. The pain, the pain! Boo, hoo!”
“Come, come, now. Daddy's little mate isn't going to turn Turk like that, is she? I'll put some fat out of the dinner bag on it, and tie it up in my hanky. Don't cry anymore now. Hush, you must not cry! You'll make old Dart buck if you kick up a row like that.”
That is my first recollection of life. I was barely three. I can remember the majestic gum trees surrounding us, the sun glinting on their straight white trunks, and falling on the gurgling fern-banked stream, which disappeared beneath a steep, scrubby hill on our left. It was an hour past noon on a long clear summer day. We were on a distant part of the run, where my father had come to deposit salt. He had left home early in the dewy morning, carrying me in front of him on a little brown pillow which my mother had made for the purpose. We had put the lumps of rock salt in the troughs on the other side of the creek. The stringybark roof of the salt shed which protected the troughs from rain peeped out picturesquely from the musk and peppercorn shrubs by which it was densely surrounded, and was visible from where we lunched. I refilled the quart pot in which we had boiled our tea with water from the creek, Father doused our fire out with it, and then tied the quart to the D of his saddle with a piece of green hide. The green-hide bags in which the salt had been carried were hanging on the hooks of the pack saddle which encumbered the bay pack horse. Father's saddle and the brown pillow were on Dart, the big gray horse on which he generally carried me, and we were on the point of making tracks for home.
to starting, Father was muzzling the dogs which had just finished what lunch we had left. This process, to which the dogs strongly objected, was rendered necessary by a cogent reason. Father had brought his strychnine flask with him that day, and in hopes of causing the death of a few dingoes, had put strong doses of its contents in several dead beasts which we had come across.