• ‘Elizabeth Harrower’s The Watch Tower truly feels like a neglected classic…I think it’s one of the most moving books I’ve read in a very long time.’

    Mariella Frostrup, ‘Open Book’, BBC Radio 4.

  • The Jerilderie Letter is angry, mad, scary. One of the greatest rants ever put to the page. Read this letter out loud. Then go out and DO something!’

    Paul Kelly, writer and musician

  • What makes a classic? ‘Something that makes you nervous or excited (same thing?) to pick up, well after the initial print run.’

    Nicholas Brodie @fodusempire

  • Tamarisk Row by Gerald Murnane. Because the poise in the memory, the backyards and the marbles in the dirt, the sex and the squares in calendars, the men and the land and the tracks in it, are passed on to a reader exhilarated in the realisation that this great Australian novel is in fact Tamarisk Row, coming home when the race is all over.’

    Tim Cribbes

  • ‘Using my Jane Austen Index: the book I read every year for pleasure and a sense of place and time—The Children’s Bach by Helen Garner. Deceptively effortless prose, clear-eyed insights, absolutely believable characters: everything about it is special.’

    Lindy Jones, ABA/Text Publishing Bookseller of the Year, 2011.

  • What makes a classic? ‘It has to be CLASsy and fully SIC.’

    Mark Harding ‏ @ml_harding

  • A classic is ‘a book that defines who we are, yet we had never considered ourselves in that way before’.

    Sam ‏@samstillreading

  • ‘Can I nominate Cultural Amnesia by Clive James as my favourite Australian book—it’s one of the best written, perspicacious, informative and above all scintillating reads and re-reads?’

    Richard Tognetti, artistic director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra

  • ‘I remember reading Jessica Anderson’s Tirra Lirra by the River as a young bookseller in 1979. It has remained with me, a short masterpiece about one woman’s life so beautifully re-imagined that it saddens and inspires simultaneously.’

    David Gaunt, bookseller

  • A classic is ‘a story about the human condition, which reaches through the generations’.

    Janice Gill @JaniceGill1

  • ‘I think one of the great under-appreciated Australian writers is Lily Brett. Unintended Consequences and The Auschwitz Poems were two collections of poetry that were so accessible and so powerful and they’ve always been with me.’

    Michelle Klein

  • What makes a classic? ‘Endurance, not sales. The sometimes gentle, sometimes raw, insistence of a voice like no other.’

    James Tierney @ViragoHaus

  • The Magic Pudding. Apparently a friend of Norman Lindsay maintained that children love to read about fairies. Lindsay disagreed—he said they loved to read about food. Regardless, this is such a clever book that it’s at least as entertaining for adults. A marvellous tale, filled with Lindsay’s delightful illustrations and dry humour. Delicious.’

    Sigrid Thornton, actor

  • ‘Any book which outlives the fashions and trends it was written in & still remains relevant, is a classic.’

    Michael Grey @Mikes005

  • ‘I loved The Fortunes of Richard Mahony because it is a breath-taking view of Ballarat last century. Such fine description and such sensitively drawn characters.’

    Catherine Ryan

  • What makes a classic? ‘Somewhere, a dingo barked.’

    Christopher Currie @furioushorses

  • ‘The depiction of Australian life in Kylie Tennant’s Ride on Stranger is striking in its intensity and starkness. On first reading this years ago, I was struck by the original and, for the time, brave depiction Kylie Tennant presents of a woman in her society.’

    Mary Dalmau, bookseller

  • Swords and Crowns and Rings by Ruth Park. Wonderful evocation of small country town intolerance and depression era hardship. Re-read it several times but sadly someone “borrowed” my much loved copy.’

    Diana Petersen

  • ‘A book an author is happy with at its time of publication, and its readers are happy with years later, is a classic.’

    Anonymous Author ‏@AnonAuth

  • ‘Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet. The down to earth, quirky characters, the evocative sense of place and the beautiful narrative by Fish! That scene where he and his brother are out in the boat looking at the stars brings me to tears just thinking about it. My 16-year-old daughter just read it for the first time and adored it. I must have done something right!’

    Pamela Cook

  • What makes a classic? ‘A book you might perhaps fib about having read even though you haven’t…’

    Emma Rafferty @EmmaRaff

  • A classic is ‘a book you study at school and (claim to) loathe; then go back and reread as an adult and love’.

    Penni Russon ‏@eglantinescake

  • ‘My favourite Australian classic is Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay—for its gentle, haunting style and its real sense of the Australian landscape.’

    Dale Baldock

  • Three Cheers for the Paraclete by Thomas Kenneally—A sympathetic, but devastating, “Brides of Christ” for guys, if you will. But all the more gripping as having been written at the time, and not with hindsight. Just so apposite right now in view of all the present day abuse scandals. Read it when first published and have never forgotten it.’

    Diana Petersen

  • A classic is ‘something that remains relevant and enjoyable despite the passage of time’.

    Vanessa Lanaway @reddotscribble

  • ‘Shane Maloney’s Stiff is my go-to book whenever I need a cheer up or a new perspective. His prose, his slanted and sometimes achingly accurate view on the world lifts my spirits every time. The fact that I can discover something new, something funny after all these reads speaks well for Shane Maloney’s work…or my forgetfulness. One of the two.’

    Dave Sinclair

  • A classic is ‘a work that’s artistically or psychologically revealing for many years to come’.

    Rino Breebaart ‏@rinosphere

  • Patrick White’s Voss: absolutely haunting.
    Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet: achingly familiar, oddly distant and unique.
    Elizabeth Jolly’s The Well: tight, disturbing, riveting.
    Carmel Bird’s The Bluebird Cafe: inventive, lyrical, fun.
    I know that’s more than one, but they’re my favourites; how could I possibly choose from amongst them?

    Shalome Knoll

  • A classic is ‘a book with universal appeal and a timeless theme that expresses life, truth or beauty’.

    Wendy Monaghan AE @WMEditing

  • Manhattan Dreaming by Anita Heiss and Shadowboxing by Tony Birch. Both books present an Australia I recognize and both books are concerned with contemporary political matters that are important to me.’

    Sussan Khadem

  • I read The Watch Tower by Elizabeth Harrower while on holiday recently and I am astounded at the quality of the writing. I’m also surprised not to have discovered her sooner and that this amazing work is not better known internationally. What a treasure.

    Duncan Curry, UK

  • Such is Life is a magnificent, rambling, intellectual yarn…written with earthy elegance, poetry of the landscape, and wisdom of life lived fully.’

    Ivan Watson

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News and Reviews

Sunday Herald Tribune on Owls Do Cry

Owls Do Cry glows with the inner light of (Frame’s) human awareness—a cool flame that neither cauterises nor heals but in some mystic ways purifies, substituting an essential beauty for superficial pain and squalor.’

Read more

The case for The Fortunes of Richard Mahony

The Fortunes of Richard Mahony is essentially a 20th-century rewriting of a 19th-century historical novel. It takes the theme of the self-made man, the characteristically Victorian trope of a picaresque hero which American fiction reconfigured as the Horatio Alger prototype, ...

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In memory of Diana Gribble

The visionary Diana Gribble founded Text in 1990. She wanted to create an independent publishing house that would find books to enlighten, challenge and entertain us.

In keeping with this vision, Text Classics are iconic books by our most loved writers.