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Type: Thesis
Title: The Life and Work of George Isaacs
Author: Black, Anne Elizabeth
Issue Date: 2016
School/Discipline: School of Humanities : English and Creative Writing
Abstract: This is the first comprehensive examination of the life, work and significance of the colonial writer George Isaacs, the “thorough Bohemian” who was the author of the first novel published in South Australia, The Queen of the South. Under the apt pseudonym of “A. Pendragon”, Isaacs captured the dynamic atmosphere of the colonial era in his writing, which ranged from plays to poetry and from journalism to prose. But he did not fit comfortably into colonial society. Set apart by an unconventional private life, his Jewish heritage, his fierce intelligence and his willingness to speak and write his mind, he led a surprisingly varied life across two hemispheres and two Australian colonies. Isaacs was largely forgotten after his death. This chronological biography redresses this neglect by establishing the details of his life and writing. An Appendix provides a bibliography of his published and unpublished works. Opening chapters examine Isaacs’ youth in England, with an emphasis on his first precocious publication, his enthusiasm for antiques, his influential connections, his travels and his immigration to South Australia. Following chapters discuss Isaacs’ productive years in Australia, where, despite poverty, imprisonment and chronic ill-health, he visited the Victorian goldfields, wrote plays that were performed around the world, and had great influence in Gawler. There, he was a founder of the Humbug Society, influential in the Gawler Institute and responsible for an Australian anthem. One of Isaacs’ plays, based on Frankenstein, was possibly the first published science fiction in Australia. This opinionated man left a significant imprint on his society and its literature. He did not become famous or wealthy, but his activities and his writing provide a useful counterpoint to the conventional interpretation of a successful life. As an inaugural study, The Life and Work of George Isaacs contributes another strand to our knowledge of Australian colonial literature and provides a foundation for further research. On a more intimate level, it is a paradigm of a colonial scribe—a case study of one immigrant’s struggles to live as a writer in the evolving society of colonial Australia.
Advisor: Butterss, Philip
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Humanities, 2016
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
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