Before Australia was an organised state, it was made up of a collection of British colonies. It is no surprise then to learn that its literary history is linked to the rules and traditions of English literature.
Classic literature referred to Australia and the surrounding islands as early as 1726, when the British satirist, Jonathan Swift, referred to the Houyhnhnms of Gulliver’s Travels to the west of Tasmania. Many other British authors made contributions to Australian literature during the renaissance period.
The narrative of Australian culture started to diverge from British influence around 1788 when themes of democracy, nationality, migration, and egalitarianism became more prominent in the literature.
When communities separated from the British colonies to form independent groups, there was a greater focus on establishing a uniquely Australian identity. This reflected more and more in the writing as time went by.
David Unaipon published the first account of the indigenous people of Australia in his book entitled ‘’Legendary Tales of the Aborigines’’ in 1930. In the mid-20th century, written work took on an increasingly democratic stance, with authors from various cultural backgrounds publishing their manuscripts.
There are several literary masterpieces by international writers that concern Australia, including D. H. Lawrence’s Kangaroo and Charles Darwin’s journals containing the naturalist’s first impressions of Australia and how it inspired his work in his book ‘’Origin of Species’’.
In 1991 a genre of writing called Grunge lit became established. Grunge lit refers to fictional or semi-autobiographical writing. The genre gained popularity as people expressed more rebellion and freedom towards living in suburban or inner-city environments.
This writing focused on the atrocities experienced by lower-income people. These works also addressed the themes of domestic violence and other social issues in Australian society.
In the late 1990s, the post-Grunge lit genre became more prominent, and Australian authors began to reflect more on Neoliberalism in Australian and global political culture.
Modern literature seems to take on a diverse number of genres in Australia, with authors addressing everything from local matters to global environmental concerns.