Australian romance fiction

Publication year

From the Introduction to the volume:

Our third chapter, “Australian Romance Fiction,” overlaps chronologically with the first two, as it covers writings from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twenty-first, but unlike Dixon and Regis, contributor Lauren O’Mahony is able to draw on the substantial body of scholarship devoted to the national specificities of Australian romance—the “beetroot in the burger,” in Juliet Flesch’s memorable metaphor—which have distinguished it from other Anglophone romance traditions and which have enabled it, in the past and now, to serve an “outward facing ambassadorial function” (O’Mahony, 73) in presenting Australia and Australianness to readers elsewhere. (13)


Since it was first published in the mid-1850s, Australian romance fiction has offered readers insights into the nation’s changing social and cultural conditions. Many early romance stories explored the fortunes and burdens associated with colonial life. Several post-Federation stories (those published after 1901) ruminated on what it meant to be an Australian, particularly an Australian “girl” or “woman.” Today’s contemporary romances represent the journey to love with complex interplays between women’s rights and responsibilities in daily life. This chapter explores how Australian romance fiction offers glimpses into life in Australia as well as women’s “place” within the nation’s social, cultural, and environmental fabric. As Juliet Flesch remarks, change is a feature of Australian romance fiction: the genre’s readers, writers, and industries have changed and so too have the representations of women. As this chapter argues, Australia’s rich history of romance writing has evolved from humble beginnings into the successful industry and community it is today. (72)