This page seems to have interested my mother, as she herself was an inspiring author. In our family archive, there are a significant number of her writings.
The article was within a column compiled by Howard Ashton, entitled "The Book Review and Music Notes section", and he presented a number of reasons why the Australian public, at that time, had been neglecting its own authors.
There were various responses from readers about why this might be so. One was that 'a prophet is not recognised in his own home'; another was that Australian authors of the time lacked sophisticated literary 'finish'; someone claimed pure prejudice; someone else blamed paucity of output, and finally, a reader commented that, as a rule, the book jackets were badly designed and unattractive.
Ashton himself thought that, if a reader were given an option of an English or an American author as opposed to an Australian writer, he or she would select the overseas offering.
Remember, this was 75 years ago!.
Mr F Gordon Crane of Emu Park, Central Queensland wrote:
"Who are Australia's own authors? Are they are Australian born writers who have gone to London and are there carving out names for themselves. If so, I do not think they are being neglected …..
"Are they the few first class authors who have remained in Australia, and continue to turn out books and have them published? ….and who are they, half a dozen new names in the past 10 years, say, who look like turning out first-class stuff ......"
He went on to talk about a (then) recent push to publish Australian work as 'fair dinkum', and complained that it was being marketed just 'because' it was 'Australian', and that some publishers were not taking due regard to only putting out work of good quality. He thought that there was an exaggerated tendency to market under the slogan 'buy Australian because you are Australian', and that the local market was thus being exploited.
If we now fast-forward to modern times, my first book "Hockey in Australia" which was published in 1982. Even at that time, these same kinds of arguments were being put. Over the years Governments of either persuasion have fiddled with the laws to advantage Australian authors.
Certainly the Library and Education Public Lending Schemes, paying Australian authors loyalties in Libraries and educational institutions, has been a great step forward for fostering Australian authors – but the question of whether the quality is as high as it might be with more competition remains open.
It all illustrates that in every generation there is a debate about Australian authors and the nature of 'overseas' competition. It appears to be one hand at least, 'an era debate'.
The same 'era debate' can be said about a host of issues, not only Australian authors.
Another 'era debate' is the nature of evangelism (books have a huge impact on evangelism). I grew up in the 50's and '60s hearing stories of a 'golden era' of Sydney Baptist church growth in the 1930s, with numerous articles and books written.
However, in the 1980's, in the clear light of specific research of this so called Baptist church life 'golden era', illustrated it was limited to two or three congregations who were very good at what they did with great preachers.
They were also very up beat on self promotion. Indeed the Pentecostals of today may have taken an idea or two from them. There are plenty of Pentecostal Australian authors on Christian issues.