Adventures in Australia (1851) by Mrs R. Lee: reading for girls at home and abroad

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Critics of colonial fiction for juveniles have too frequently addressed gender through genre: adventure stories in foreign lands are for boys; moral tales at home are for girls. While Mrs Lee's Adventures in Australia appears to replicate such binaries and the imperial agendas they serve, re-examination of its sparse “girlie” scenes—exemplified by “Mrs Onslow's garden” in the final chapter—complicates normative views of its intended adventure story readerships. By paying particular attention to the novel's own prefatory definitions and priorities as an adventure fiction, and Lee's historical and authorial contexts, this article explores the many ways in which Adventures in Australia addresses the thinking girl. As a “pioneer” novel of the Antipodes by an English woman who never set foot there, it then also turns upside down modern critical definitions and expectations in Australian and Victorian studies about the early “Australian” novel, and juvenile adventure fiction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-165
Number of pages18
JournalWomen's Writing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2014


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