Charles Dickens' Australia. Selected essays from Household Words 1850-1859. Book Four: Mining and Gold
Researched and presented by Margaret Mendelawitz
Sydney University Press
Charles Dickens is little celebrated as a journalist, yet his career spanned nearly 40 years. Starting as a court reporter, parliamentary newspaper columnist and theatre critic, he developed an instinct for injustice, humbug and charade. For 20 years he edited his own weekly journal, Household Words, later known as All the Year Round, publishing articles and stories designed to be interesting, entertaining, and educational.
Dickens had a keen interest in Australia and fortuitously began publishing the periodical at a transitional moment, just before the heady days of the 1850s gold rush set the world ablaze. The discovery of gold drove a period of mass immigration, expansion into the hinterlands, and caused radical economic and social changes in an emerging nation.
Of the nearly 3000 articles published in Household Words, some 100 related to Australia and have been collected in this anthology. Dickens saw Australia offering opportunities for England's poor and downtrodden to make a new start and a brighter future for themselves; optimism reflected in many of the articles.
The stories have been grouped into five volumes: Convict Stories, Immigration, Frontier Stories, Mining and Gold and Maritime Conditions.
Book Four: Mining and Gold
This volume focuses on mining. The goldfields stories in Household Words present a broad picture of life at the diggings. Occasionally a fabulous find (sometime spent in a week); but, more often, depictions of optimistic diggers being beaten by the hard life, hard luck or looming failure. There are stories of men and women from all ranks of society, sailors on the run and Chinese immigrants, all hoping to make a fortune.
About the editor
Margaret Mendelawitz is a graduate in history and anthropology from the University of Western Australia. She has had a lifelong interest in Australian social history stimulated largely through her being a descendant of pioneering families who settled in Western Australia in 1829-30, and Victoria in the 1850s. She currently works as a mediator.
Titles in the seriesBook One: Convict Stories Book Two: Immigration Book Three: Frontier Stories Book Four: Mining and Gold Book Five: Maritime Conditions Five Book Set