Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock
6 surprising things you may not know
23 October 2017

Joan Lindsay’s classic mystery novel, Picnic at Hanging Rock, was first published 50 years ago. The National Library is marking the occasion with an event, ‘Where’s Miranda: 50 Years of Picnic at Hanging Rock’.

Here are six things you might not know about the book and its author.

  1. Picnic at Hanging Rock was launched by Sir Robert Menzies in Melbourne on 1 November 1967 but on the day of the launch, only three copies of the book were in the country. A recording of the former Prime Minister’s launch speech is in the National Library’s collection.
    Listen here
  2. The novel begins on Saturday, 14 February 1900, St Valentine’s Day. But in 1900, St Valentine’s Day fell on a Wednesday.
  3. Joan Lindsay was 69 when Picnic at Hanging Rock was published. Her first novel, In Darkest Pondelyo, was published in 1936. In 1962, she published a memoir, Time Without Clocks and, 20 years later, a children’s book, Syd Sixpence, illustrated by Rick Amor.
  4. Picnic at Hanging Rock was published by Cheshire in 1967. When senior editor, John Hooker, was offered a position at Penguin, he decided the novel should be part of a new Australian list. Penguin has been the book’s Australian publisher ever since. Following the release of the film tie-in in 1975, the book became Penguin’s second highest-selling Australian novel, behind AB Facey’s A Fortunate Life.
  5. Although published around the world in foreign language editions, Picnic at Hanging Rock wasn’t published in the United States until 2014.
  6. The success of the novel and Peter Weir’s movie overwrote the ‘true history’ of the area around Hanging Rock, near Woodend in Victoria. This year, the #Mirandamustgo campaign, instigated by artist Amy Spiers, has aimed to raise awareness of the Indigenous history of the area.

Janelle McCulloch’s recent biography of Joan Lindsay, Beyond the Rock, reveals many more stories about the author and the book.

Never read Picnic at Hanging Rock? Join us at 1.30pm on Saturday 28 October 2017 for a dramatised reading by some top-notch Australian actors, and conversations about the book and its legacy.
More information and bookings