Australasian Journal of Victorian Studies, Vol 18, No 1 (2013)

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She Rides Astride: Mateship, Morality and the Outback-colonial Girl

Caroline Campbell


This article focuses on the representation of girlhood, gender and mateship particular to Australia, and to a lesser extent New Zealand, within the context of an emerging nationalism, social change and political upheaval. In it, I apply an illustrator’s perspective to interrogating the cultural significance of Mary Grant Bruce’s iconic outback heroine, Norah of Billabong Station. By comparatively examining Norah’s sequential representation in the narrative text, and the illustrations produced by John MacFarlane, I argue Bruce and her little-known, and rarely discussed immigrant illustrator combined to create an ideal and national type that was counter to anything that had been created for colonial girl readers before.

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