Charles Harpur: The Editorial Nightmare

Paul Eggert


Coming to grips with the literary-historical phenomenon that colonial poet Charles Harpur represents requires a shift in focus and a querying of traditional assumptions about the shape and manifestation of literary careers. The failure to make that shift editorially for Harpur has hindered the efforts of ordinary readers and literary critics for nearly 150 years. Harpur’s poetic works have been accessible only partially or misleadingly, despite some very considerable editorial efforts stretching back to the late 1940s. An explanation of this situation is the principal subject of the essay. It then describes a potential digital-editorial solution that is in preparation: the Charles Harpur Critical Archive.


Charles Harpur; colonial poetry; digital archives; scholarly editions

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Ackland, Michael. Charles Harpur: Selected Poetry and Prose. Ringwood, Vic.: Penguin, 1986.

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Headon, David, and Elizabeth Perkins, ed. Our First Republicans: John Dunmore Lang, Charles Harpur and Daniel Henry Deniehy. Sydney: Federation Press, 1998.

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——. ‘Harpur and his Editor’. Southerly, 12.1 (1951), 47–54.


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