Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 16, 2017

Grattan Street Publishing – a new publisher on the block

Today I want to tell you about a new publishing venture called Grattan Street Press

I heard about it from the University of Melbourne’s Facebook page which brings news from its publication Pursuit. (Which is of course a marketing ‘newsletter’ though alumni like me receive it too).  Most of their stuff is about research breakthroughs and so forth, but every now and again there’s something bookish.  And I was very interested to learn about an initiative which is part of their Publishing and Communications program in the School of Culture and Communication.  (I think that’s what we used to call the Faculty of Arts).

Grattan Street Press is a start-up trade publisher based in Melbourne, and is staffed by graduate students, who receive hands-on experience of every aspect of the publishing process. An initiative of the Publishing and Communications program, the Press is run by Aaron Mannion, and supported by Associate Professor Mark Davis, Dr Sybil Nolan and Dr Beth Driscoll.

They aim to publish a range of work, including contemporary literature, trade non-fiction, and children’s books, and to re-publish culturally valuable works that are out of print. 

Their first venture is a reissue of The Forger’s Wife, (1856) by John Lang. This is the blurb (written by the students, of course!):

John Lang was Australia’s first locally born novelist, publishing early work in Sydney in the 1840s and going on to write several bestsellers. The Forger’s Wife (1856) is a lively adventure novel, set in an unruly colonial Sydney where everyone is on the make. The forger’s wife is a young woman who follows her rakish husband out to Australia and struggles to survive as her marriage falls apart. She soon meets detective George Flower, a powerful man with a cavalier sense of justice and retribution. Flower literally controls the fortunes of the colony: taking on the local bushrangers, instructing colonial authorities, and helping himself to the spoils along the way. First serialised in Fraser’s Magazine in 1853, The Forger’s Wife was popular in its day and was reprinted many times over. It is Australia’s first detective novel – and most likely, the first detective novel in the Anglophone world. ‘It is a powerful, if occasionally painful, book. It sells even now in all the colonies and in England by the thousand…’ ‘Rolf Boldrewood on Australian Literature’, The Advocate (Melbourne), 20 May 1893

Well, detective fiction is not my area of interest but I like to support not-for-profit initiatives that give students practical experience and so I bought a copy.  It is a classy production, with nothing amateurish about it at all.  As you can see, the cover is stylish (and some of our big commercial publishers could learn a thing or two about design from these students).  There is an introduction by Ken Gelder and Rachel Weaver, and in the appendix there’s a translation by Sophie Zins of the ‘short episode’ in French that was included in the original publication.  There’s also a facsimile of the original cover which is a nice touch. If you were looking for a bookish gift for a detective-fiction enthusiast, The Forger’s Wife is a title they’re not likely to have already.  You can buy a copy here.

Grattan Street Publishing now also have a second title called Force and Fraud, a Tale of the Bush.  If you are considering joining Bill’s AWW Gen 1 Week, I think this title would qualify because the author Ellen Davitt fits into the time period.

Ellen Davitt (1812-1879) is the author of the first Australian murder mystery. Davitt moved to Australia in 1854 and served as the superintendent of the Model and Normal School in East Melbourne. After her husband’s death in 1860, Davitt began writing, and though most of her early work has been lost, her novels and novellas have been recovered from the Australian Journal, including Force and Fraud: A Tale from the Bush. The Davitt Award was created in 2001 in her honour to celebrate crime writing women in Australia.

You can buy a copy of Force and Fraud here.

PS My book came with a handy canvas tote bag as well!


  1. So much C19th writing was serialised in newspapers and journals. What a great initiative to begin resuscitating it.


    • It’s terrific, I agree. And a probably not something commercially worthwhile because of the amount of research involved.


  2. Yes, a great venture and I’m impressed by the cover too.


    • I’ve seen publications from writing schools but they haven’t been as well done as this.


  3. […] The Weekend Australian’s Books Review pages.  Just last week I promoted an initiative from Grattan Street Publishing, a micro-press for students to learn the publishing game and which is reissuing forgotten books […]


  4. […] The (paper) edition I read was published in 2017 by Grattan Street Press (an arm of Melbourne Uni) with an Introduction by Ken Gelder and Rachael Weaver. It was first brought out in book form in 1993, by Mulini Press edited and introduced by Lucy Sussex who also wrote the Introduction to the Clan Destine Press -e-book edition. I was put on to Force and Fraud by Lisa of ANZLitLovers when she wrote about Grattan Street Press in November (here). […]


  5. I have linked this review (and Sue’s) to the “Men from the same period” section at the bottom of my AWW Gen 1 page

    Liked by 1 person

  6. […] read about Grattan Street Press here before.  It’s an initiative of the University of Melbourne’s Publishing and […]


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