Nettie Palmer and Fourteen Years
AffiliationFaculty of Arts
Document TypeMasters Research thesis
CitationsLucas, R. (2002). Nettie Palmer and Fourteen Years. Masters Research thesis, Faculty of Arts, The University of Melbourne.
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2002 Robin Lucas
Fourteen Years: Extracts from a Private Journal 1925-1939 (1948) has been acknowledged as one of the lasting works of Nettie Palmer, and the major publication of the Meanjin Press. This thesis outlines both the publishing and the intellectual history of Fourteen Years. In detailing the physical production of the book from the initial idea in 1945 to the closing of the book's bank account by the overseeing publisher in 1950, the argument presented will be that rather than a Meanjin Press production, Fourteen Years was a hybrid, a self-published book which used the Meanjin Press imprint and infrastructure. Despite Vance and Nettie Palmer's long publishing experience, it will be seen that they struggled to reconcile the conflicting roles of author and publisher. When Fourteen Years was republished in 1988, reviewers influenced by the feminist debates of the 1970s sought to rescue Nettie Palmer from her role as assiduous and neglected helpmate in the shadow of her husband. The myth was then established that Nettie toiled at journalism and housework, protecting Vance from those realities while he wrote his novels uninterrupted. By studying the intellectual creation of the book, this thesis will show instead that the Palmers' literary partnership was accommodating, collaborative, and balanced. While Fourteen Years is presented as 'extracts from a private journal', it has long been acknowledged by Palmer scholars that the book's sources are many. There was no journal. Rather, Palmer used letters, her own diaries, notebooks, articles and family memories to construct Fourteen Years. This thesis will briefly discuss the extent of these sources, and will argue that they are even more varied than has previously been thought, making the "construction" of Fourteen Years a major, and very successful, editing task. In examining these aspects of Fourteen Years, this study will be seen to add to our knowledge of Nettie Palmer as an intellectual force, of small press publishing in Australia, and of Australian intellectual life in the 1940s.
KeywordsNettie Palmer; Fourteen Years; Australian women authors; biography; authors and publishers
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