23 January 2010


BONZA SCHOOLDAYS: An online bibliography and history of Australian school stories.
School stories are a particular genre of children’s fiction which originally developed in Britain and were very popular in the early 20th century. This website identifies 55 Australian school stories by 28 different authors. A comprehensive bibliography and history of the genre has been researched.

This is the first time a complete bibliography of Australian School Stories has been compiled.

No complete bibliography of the genre has previously been assembled, which has led to an incomplete history of the genre in Australia emerging, with scholars asserting that the genre never really existed in Australia, or that it merely mimicked the British model and subsequently was inferior to the British genre. With the compilation of a comprehensive bibliography of Australian school stories, an historical and thematic overview of the genre including an analysis of the British educational and literary legacy was undertaken, which provided an insight into the development of the genre in Australia.

The genre represented a small, yet significant element in the development of children’s literature in Australia.

Australian school stories were influenced by the British genre as Australian private schools modelled themselves on British public schools. The ‘playing the game’ ethic was endorsed in the stories. Broadly speaking, the genre contained some common characteristics; authors often introduced mystery or adventure plots, set their stories in real schools, portrayed the hero or heroine as a new boy or girl, and created series.

The school story was an important genre in Australian children’s fiction. A greater understanding of how the genre developed in Australia has been obtained through the definitive listing of all known examples. The examination of the stories within the genre has allowed a case study analysis, which would be difficult in the field of British school stories, because of the sheer volume of that genre. Outside of Britain, Australia was the leading Commonwealth country where the genre developed most extensively. The study provides a model for future research into other children’s genres in Australia, such as adventure or romance stories, which will provide a more complete picture of Australian children’s literary history.

The Introduction examines the historiography of the school story genre and the methodology and rationale behind the research undertaken for the MPhil thesis which provides the information included in this web site.

The Bibliography lists every full-length Australian school story with full bibliographical details and with annotated entries discussing plots, themes and motifs with a biographical entry provided for each author.

The history of the genre is examined in several article length pieces: A History of Australian School Stories; The School Story World; The School Story in Australian Literary Culture and The British School Story Tradition. A Motif Guide classifies the titles according to various categories: school types, story types, plot motifs, and characters. References & Links contains a list of useful references which were used in conducting the research.