Vance and Nettie Palmer in Caloundra, 1925-29: The regional turn

Deborah Jordan

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    Vance and Nettie Palmer were among Australia's most important literary partnerships. Previous accounts of their life and work underplay their commitment to the creation of an environmental imagination. After the trauma and disillusion of the Great War, they lived in Caloundra from 1925 to 1929 (and from then had an ongoing connection). While it is generally acknowledged how important their time there was in terms of Vance's emerging work in literary fiction, and through Nettie's work as a freelance journalist, what has not been addressed is their extraordinary environmental writings about the region. Regional writings were largely dismissed in the 1990s as of comparative insignificance to national narratives-just as today the reputation of the inter-war writers, those associated with the Palmers, is at a low ebb. During the 1920s, Nettie developed critical categories to accommodate a double standard in Australian writing: regional and universal literature. She went on to argue for the support of writing in Australia at the regional level. Vance reflected on his explorations of place directly in a series of articles. This paper reframes the Palmers' Caloundra work in the 'bio-regional' terms of climate change and the historical cultural imaginary.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)180-190
    Number of pages11
    JournalQueensland Review
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

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