Australian publishers

A full list of publishers can be found by using the Browse function on the Archives catalogue and selecting ‘publishers’ from the drop-down menu. Browse by creator’s activity or occupation.

UMA holds a significant amount of publishing activity, especially with a feminist focus.  Small Victorian publishers such as Sisters Publishing Ltd, Sugar and Snails, and Spinifex Press all made a mark in the industry addressing sexism in both adult and children’s literature.

Cover of ‘Lilith: a feminist history journal’, no 1, Winter, 1984, Lilith Collective Collection, University of Melbourne Archives, 1997.0056

Still in publication today, Lilith journal was born in 1983 within the History Department of the University of Melbourne. Amongst the operational and correspondence records of this collection are seven audio tapes of the Feminist History Conference, 28 May 1988 organised by the Collective. Similarly, Vashti’s Voice (later known just as Vashti) published works on feminist interests and activities. Researchers can find volumes of the journal as well as editorial material and photographs from its inception in 1972 to the final volume in 1981.

The work of Spinifex Press also seeks out work from the marginalised and those whose voices are missing from mainstream publishing. Beginning in 1991, the publishers also led the way in Australia for e-publishing and the listed collection is a good place for research into contemporary, ongoing Australian publishing.

Researchers will also find a wealth of information about the Australian publishing and literary scene in the significant holdings of the McPhee Gribble archive. Established in 1975, the company was directed by Hilary McPhee and Diana Gribble. Many famous Australian writers began or established their careers with McPhee Gribble including Helen Garner, Tim Winton and Gabrielle Carey. The collection is extensively listed and, apart from business and administrative records, also holds folders of press cuttings and audio-visual material which can be found in the UMA catalogue.

Portrait of Clem Christesen at Castle Hedingham, Essex, UK, Meanjin Collection, University of Melbourne Archives, 2005.0004.00042

Another publishing giant based at the University of Melbourne is Meanjin. Clem Christesen was persuaded to move the literary journal from Brisbane to Melbourne on the premise that academics at the university desired a place to publish their work. Similarly, the journal Scripsi was founded by Peter Craven and Michael Heyward in 1981, initially out of the University of Melbourne's English department, where both were post-graduate students. They sought to publish modernist critics, poets and fiction-writers from both Australia and overseas and continued publishing until 1994.

Meanjin continues to publish Australian work in a quarterly publication under the Melbourne University Press imprint, and research into its historical records illustrates various movements in Australian literature, across many genres. UMA holds collections from all editors of the journal until 2001.

See the list below for individual editors:

Australian Centre - Hilary McPhee and Stephanie Holt, 1999, University of Melbourne. Office of Media & Publications Unit Collection, University of Melbourne Archives, 2003.0003

Daniel Wrixon (DW) Thorpe established a book and stationery trade in 1921, which in the 1950s included publication of Australian works. D.W. Thorpe was active in professional bodies such as the Associated Booksellers' of Australia and New Zealand, of which he was secretary from 1925-1949. His daughter, Joyce Nicholson, became Managing Director in 1968 and later sole owner.  An author in her own right, Joyce Thorpe Nicholson wrote over 25 books, including children’s books and those about women's issues. She was also associated with Sisters Publishing, and her work is complemented by other collections held at UMA relating to the women’s advocacy.

In the late 1800s, another family publishing business run by Francis Niven was established in Ballarat, and then Melbourne. 1873 Niven imported one of the earliest known commercial steam lithographic presses in Australia. Niven’s earliest known work was published in 1857 in Ballarat Punch. Further information on Niven can be found on his entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Page one of The Female Eunuch First Draft 1969, Germaine Greer Collection, University of Melbourne Archives, 2014.0044.00247


In the Germaine Greer archive is a series covering Greer’s correspondence with her many publishers from 1970-2014. Researchers may find more specific material regarding Greer’s publishing career by searching the online finding aids available.

The UMA blog features posts on some of the publishing related collections held at UMA: