Posted by: Lisa Hill | August 24, 2016

Text Classics reaches its 100th title milestone

It seems like only yesterday that I was getting all excited about the launch of the Text Classics series, and yet here we are in 2016 and Text is about to launch its 100th title in the series.  It’s called The Dyehouse, and it’s the debut novel of author Mena Calthorpe (1905–1996).  Wikipedia tells me that The Dyehouse was  shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award, but as the WP article for the Miles Franklin doesn’t include shortlists prior to 1987, I don’t know who the other shortlisted authors were, only the winner, who in 1961 was Patrick White for Riders in the Chariot, and he was stiff enough competition all by himself, eh?

Anyway, along with the publication of this book there are all sorts of goodies in store – and I know all this because Text have very kindly sent me some of the loot:

100 Faber Postcards frontText’s blurb tells me that there will be

  • celebratory events and writers’ festival sessions
  • advertising, giveaways and reader competitions
  • a revamp of the Classics website, including (hurrah!) a new literary map of Australia and New Zealand
  • boxed sets of 100 Text Classics Postcards: these use the Classic Texts bookcover designs by W.H. Chong, and you all know how much I love his designs!  (I’ll confess, I toyed with the idea of doing a giveaway with the set they sent me, but no, I like them too much, sorry, I’m keeping them!
  • special offers, and
  • Text Classics tote baga beaut free yellow tote bag for customers who buy Text Classics from participating bookshops (Yes, I’m keeping that too. Unlike a lot of totes, this one is really well made, solid and sturdy).

All this is terrific, but really, the best thing is what a gift it has been to have these classic texts made available again.  I’ve read and reviewed a stack of them here on the blog but I’ve actually read 52 from the catalogue.  But many of those are books that I was previously only able to read by tracking them down through second-hand bookshops, sometimes at considerable expense, especially when compared to the $12.95 RRP for the Text Classics edition.   It’s fantastic to have five novels by Randolph Stow, and four by Elizabeth Harrower (whose The Watch Tower, the blurb tells me is the best selling title with sales approaching 20,000 copies).  Can those of us who love books now imagine not having them?  And Madeleine St John, all but forgotten until The Women in Black got a new place in the sun and has just recently been made into a musical?  Patrick White’s Happy Valley was another stunning discovery – I was quite sure I was never going to be able to read it because all my efforts to get a copy had failed, and lo! there it was in a beaut new edition with an introduction by Peter Craven, no less!

And coming in October there are three novels by Christina Stead to add to my wishlist: The Beauties and Furies;  A Little Tea, a Little Chat; and The Puzzledheaded Girl, plus The Little Hotel which I’ve already read (see my review).  (It cost me a fortune to buy a second-hand copy from AbeBooks, though I was very pleased to get hold of it at the time).  I predict a little binge reading of Christina Stead, maybe over the long, lazy days of summer….

Amber keeping me company PS Thank you all for your good wishes for my recovery.  You know you’re really crook when you can’t even read.  But I am on the mend, and am now happily romping through Christopher Koch’s Out of Ireland.  (Amber is looking forward to getting out for a walk again soon, she has been a good, patient little pooch, but she is getting a bit restless after four days confined to barracks.  The Avenue had better watch out when she’s back on patrol!)


  1. I’m planning my own post on this too, so will save my little round-up for that – but I just wanted to say that I think – though I’m not 100% sure – that the reason there are no shortlists for earlier years of the Miles Franklin award is that they may not have done them (at least they may not have done them as a formal thing that they published). I haven’t exactly read this specifically, but things I have read have made me think that this might be the case.


    • I think you’re right: WP says “No record has yet been found for any shortlists being released prior to that year” so if the judges didn’t release a shortlist the only way to compile them for the missing years is by winkling the information out of old publisher files and author papers and things like that. A Ph D for a student who likes a real challenge, I would say…


      • Yes, though you would hope the trustees do have files of ALL the entrants over the years. That may be all for early years where the judges possibly just whittled them down informally amongst themselves. But you’re right there could be a Ph D in the history of the awards.


        • You would hope so. But surely if the trustees had, the files would have surfaced by now. Perhaps… thinking back to the 1950s mindset, among the keepers of the files, it was never imagined that this old woman’s ‘hobby-horse’ bequest – a writer they’d probably never heard of – would become Australia’s most significant prize. Those trustees were lawyers and money men (bound to have been men) and they may have received a bundle of files from the judges, noted the name of the person who got the money and chucked out the rest because they were only required to account for how the money got spent, not how it was decided.


          • You would think though, that as the Mitchell Librarian is a permanent member of the judging panel (I’m right aren’t I), that they would have kept records? I haven’t researched this hard enough!


            • Well, you might think so… but if that’s so, where are they? I think of committee work that I’ve done over the years(some of it on regional boards and involving substantial sums of money) , and I just bet the records, minutes etc haven’t been kept. After all, there are limits on how long documents have to be kept…


  2. I’d wanted to read more Aussie lit for a long time, but either the books were unavailable or out of a reasonable price range, so the arrival of Text Classics has been a gift for me. I read The Little Hotel too (old copy) and thought it was excellent.


    • Yes, and eBooks make them affordable for international readers too. I love ’em!


  3. Oh, I love Text too and have amassed quite a collection, including all the Stows and a few of the Harrowers (though only read a handful) At one time they had free international shipping via their website! Of course, they charge now (it must have been costing them a fortune), but the website is brilliant (so easy to use) and the service superb: books arrive in London in around 4 days! I signed up to become a member, which basically meant I got a free tote. It’s got a different design on it than the one you’ve pictured here, but it’s so sturdy and eye catching I feel like it’s too good to use! I can also recommend their gift certificate service: have given quite a few of them to various friends and family.


    • That’s a good news story, Kim, you are a great ambassador for Text!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. […] Lisa (ANZLitLovers) has also written a post on this milestone. […]


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