Australian literature: Publishing company to be formed [5 October 1932]

[Editor: An article regarding the intention of P. R. Stephensen to start a new publishing company in Australia, so as to “encourage the expression of a distinctively Australian spirit”. Published in The West Australian, 5 October 1932.]

Australian literature.

Publishing company to be formed

To become managing-director of a new publishing company to be established in Australia, Mr. P. R. Stephensen, formerly a Queensland Rhodes Scholar, is traveling to the Eastern States on the mailboat Otranto, which passed through Fremantle from London yesterday. Mr. Stephensen left Australia eight years ago, and, after completing his studies in politics, economics, and philosophy at Oxford, he became associated with various publishing houses in London, where he made the acquaintance of most of the foremost English authors. He explained that his return to Australia was hastened by the visit to London in January of Mr. Norman Lindsay, the Australian author, who, on behalf of a group of Sydney authors and business men, asked him to come to Australia and establish a national publishing company in the Commonwealth.

The company would be formed immediately upon his arrival in Sydney, Mr. Stephensen said. There would be shareholders in each of the States, and branch offices of the company in every capital city. Hitherto publishing in Australia had been carried on by enterprising booksellers, but the time had arrived for the establishment of the English system of publishing houses specialising in the publication of books. Many of Australia’s most gifted authors had found it necessary to live in England or America in order to seek world recognition of their talents, and that resulted eventually in their losing their Australian point of view, because they got out of touch with their own people. The company hoped to make it possible to retain Australian talent within the Commonwealth. Australian cultural prestige suffered from lack of co-ordination, and the works of Australian authors were published under different imprints and in different countries, with the nationality of the writers often not known even to Australians.

Present economic conditions were peculiarly favourable to the inauguration of an Australian publishing house, Mr. Stephensen said. Exchange restrictions and tariffs made it impossible for books published in England to achieve any considerable sale in the Commonwealth, which was unfortunate for Australian authors who had to seek their publishers in London. The disadvantage under which Australian authors had laboured had discouraged the growth of a characteristic Australian literature, and one of the objects of the new company was to encourage the expression of a distinctively Australian spirit.

The West Australian (Perth, WA), Wednesday 5 October 1932, page 18

[Editor: Corrected “Mr. E. R. Stephensen” to “Mr. P. R. Stephensen”, which was presumably a typographical error, as the article is about Percy Reginald Stephensen.]

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