The Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature

‘Unprecedented in the breadth of what it offers from both the ancient and the recent literature of the country.’
—Thomas Keneally

The Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian LiteratureSome of the best, most significant writing produced in Australia over more than two centuries is gathered in this landmark anthology. Covering all genres—from fiction, poetry and drama to diaries, letters, essays and speeches—the anthology maps the development of one of the great literatures in English in all its energy and variety.

The writing reflects the diverse experiences of Australians in their encounter with their extraordinary environment and with themselves. This is literature of struggle, conflict and creative survival. It is literature of lives lived at the extremes, of frontiers between cultures, of new dimensions of experience, where imagination expands.

This rich, informative and entertaining collection charts the formation of an Australian voice that draws inventively on Indigenous words, migrant speech and slang, with a cheeky, subversive humour always to the fore. For the first time, Aboriginal writings are interleaved with other English-language writings—from Bennelong’s 1796 letter to the contemporary flowering of Indigenous fiction and poetry—setting up an exchange that reveals Australian history in stark new ways.

From vivid settler accounts to haunting gothic tales, from raw protest to feisty urban satire and playful literary experiment, from passionate love poetry to moving memoir, the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature reflects the creative eloquence of a society. Chosen by a team of expert editors, who have provided illuminating essays about their selections, and with more than 500 works from over 300 authors, it is an authoritative survey and a rich world of reading to be enjoyed.

'A major contributor to Australia's literary history'
—Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia

Julia Gillard with the Macquarie Pen Anthology


Purchase the Anthology from the Allen & Unwin website


Winner, Special Award at the 2010 NSW Premier's Literary Awards

Judges' comments:
"This is a very comprehensive (nearly 1500 pages) anthology of writing in Australia during the past two centuries. It includes extracts from letters, diaries and speeches as well as fiction, non-fiction, poetry and essays. Indigenous writing is well represented and there are useful introductory essays on the literature prior to 1900,
1900-1950 and then from 1950 onwards.

The volume would be an invaluable resource for students of Australian literature, but
is sufficiently broad and entertaining to be of broad general interest."

Winner, Tertiary Scholarly Reference category, Australian Educational Publishing Awards 2010

Judges' comments:
"Well-organised and cross-referenced, this anthology offers a comprehensive and interesting range of extracts and succinct biographical notes about Australian writers. The chronological listing facilitates easy contextualisation about the writers and their style, and is supported by an excellent glossary. Easy to navigate, this text can be used across a variety of courses and in a variety of contexts."

Shortlisted, General Non-fiction Book of the Year, 2010 Australian Book Industry Awards