Mother’s Day Gift Guide from Oxford

Need help spoiling Mum this Mother’s day? Check out our list of favourites for your Mum, we have something for the Mum who loves food, a good romance, or a thrilling tale – and the Mum who loves all three with a glass of wine.

See the bottom of this post for the details of a special offer, in honour of Mothers everywhere.

9780198704492Jane Austen’s Letters
Give your Mum a unique insight into the daily life of Jane Austen with her letters: intimate and gossipy, observant and informative, they bring alive her family and friends, her surroundings and contemporary events with a freshness unparalleled in biography. She will love how thoughtful and insightful Austen sounds when writing about the business of literary construction.

9780198718659Once Upon a Time
For the Mother who loves a tale, Once Upon a Time offers everything from wicked queens, beautiful princesses, elves, monsters, and goblins or giants, glass slippers, poisoned apples, magic keys, and mirrors. The characters and images of fairy tales will cast a spell your Mum will love.

9780199601950Victorian Fairy Tales
This anthology will include all her favourites and give her some new ones! The stories in this selection range from pure whimsy and romance to witty satire and darker, uncanny mystery. The book also includes a selection of original illustrations for Mum to enjoy.

Oxford Companion to Food, foodies, quizThe Oxford Companion to Food
Is your Mum interested in food, cooking, and the culture surrounding food? This Companion combines an exhaustive catalogue of foods, be they biscuits named after battles, divas or revolutionaries; body parts (from nose to tail, toe to cerebellum); or breads from the steppes of Asia or the well-built ovens of the Mediterranean; with a richly allusive commentary on the culture of food, expressed in literature and cookery books, or as dishes peculiar to a country or community.

9780198609902The Oxford Companion to Wine
Illustrated with maps of every important wine region in the world, charts and diagrams and stunning colour photographs, this Companion will give your Mum everything she needs to show off a little as she enjoys a glass of wine.

Special offer:
Visit the Oxford University Press website and enter the code MUM15 at the checkout to receive 20% off and free delivery* on the titles above.


*This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other discounts or offers. Offer ends Sunday 31st May 2015.

Bogan—from obscurity to Australia’s most productive word?

In this article, reproduced from our latest issue of Ozwords, Mark Gwynn explores the evolution of the Australian English word ‘bogan’.

In the mid 1980s, a new Australian term appeared in youth slang for a person regarded as uneducated and unsophisticated, especially such a person from a working-class background. This term was bogan. The earliest evidence we have found for it comes from the Sydney surfing magazine Tracks in September 1985: ‘So what if I have a mohawk and wear Dr Martens (boots for all you uninformed bogans)? Does that give [a] reason for us to beat each other up?’ An antecedent for bogan is westie, a word earlier applied to people from the western suburbs of Sydney; westie is a loaded term that implies a perception of these suburbs as working-class, uneducated, and uncultured. Across Australia regional terms for this stereotypical character have emerged in the last three decades, including bevan (Queensland), booner (ACT), and chigga (Tasmania). None of these terms have come close to the popularity of bogan.

The origins of bogan are still unclear. An obvious candidate is the Bogan River in western New South Wales. The river and the district around it have provided a number of terms in Australian English including Bogan gate (a makeshift gate), Bogan shower (a dust storm), and Bogan flea (a plant with spiny seeds). Perhaps the implication of our 1980s word is that a bogan is even more ‘west’ than the Western suburbs of Sydney? The Oxford English Dictionary posits a possible connection to the surname Bogan, and points also to the short story The Luck of the Bogans (1889) by American author Sarah Orne Jewett: a story concerning Irish immigrants to the United States. The problem with these possible origins (the river, the surname, the short story) is that there is no evidence of a link connecting any of them with the term that appears in the youth slang of 1980s Australia. While we are uncertain about the origins of bogan, it is obvious that the word itself has become extremely popular, and has subsequently generated a large number of derivatives and compounds.

The forthcoming second edition of the Australian National Dictionary will include a number of terms derived from bogan. The first decade of the 21st century produced bogan chick, ‘a female bogan’, boganhood, ‘pride associated with being a bogan’, boganism, ‘the state or quality of being a bogan; an instance of bogan behaviour or language’, and boganity and boganness, both referring to ‘the state or quality of being a bogan’. More recently bogan has generated: boganesque, ‘having the characteristics or resembling the style of bogans’, boganest, (superlative adjectival form – ‘he’s the boganest politician in parliament’), bogandom, ‘bogans regarded as a group’, boganology, ‘the study of bogans’, and two terms for a wealthy bogan, boganaire and cashed-up bogan (also CUB). As is clear, the term has become very productive and the possible forms are almost endless: hence attributive forms such as bogan pride and bogan vote.

In recent years we have seen bogan undergo a process of amelioration. It was initially a term of abuse, ridicule, and disparagement, as illustrated in the TV show The Comedy Company (1988–90), where it was used by the schoolgirl character, Kylie Mole, to refer to people she described as ‘losers’. But bogan has since been adopted by bogans themselves as a badge of honour and pride—perhaps as an affirmation of an Australian stereotype that harks back to the larrikin (originally a hooligan or degenerate, but now an individual with a disregard for authority and convention). With recent television series such as Bogan Pride (2008), Upper Middle Bogan (2013), and Bogan Hunter (2014) appearing on our screens, Australian culture is acknowledging that bogans are an integral part of contemporary society and identity. The productivity of the term bogan suggests that Australian English is reflecting ongoing debates about Australian culture and identity.

Mark Gwynn has been a researcher and editor at the Australian National Dictionary Centre (ANDC) since 2002. Mark is the editor of a number of Australian Oxford dictionaries and thesauruses. He has conducted research on various historical and social aspects of Australian English. Mark is also the manager of the ANDC’s social media platforms.

Ozwords logoOur biannual newsletter Ozwords contains articles on various aspects of English, especially Australian English, in partnership with the Australian National Dictionary Centre. If you are interested in reading more on Australian English and hearing news from the Australian National Dictionary Centre, why not subscribe?

World War One: links to explore

As Anzac Day approaches, we have collected some of our favourite pieces about the Great War from the Oxford Australia blog and around the Press online. You can read about the history of the iconic Anzac biscuit, rediscover soldier slang from First World War or listen to the remarkable story of John Simpson and his donkey.

Remembering Australia in the First World War

Stories from the Great War

Words and language

Sights and sounds

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography podcasts:

Lists and infographics

World War One: a snapshot in quotes

Assassination has never changed the history of the world.

    – Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Beaconsfield, speech, House of Commons, 1 May 1865

On June 28th 1914, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated by a Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, while visiting Sarajevo. This one event, this assassination, was the catalyst for four years of war. The First World War, or the Great War, was a dark time in our history and it still manages to produce some of the most profound prose and poetry in history.

Today we have compiled a snapshot of the First World War through significant quotes:

The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand –June 1914
Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far.
Don John of Austria is going to the war.

– G. K Chesteron, ‘Lepanto’ 1915

The United States will not join the war – August 1914
No nation is fit to sit in judgement upon any other nation.

– Woodrow Wilson, speech in New York, 20 April 1915; in Select Addresses (1918)

Five Battles of Flanders were fought between 1914 and 1918
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scare heard amid the guns below.

– John McCrae, ‘In Flanders Fields’ (1915)

The Bolsheviks overthrow the Russian Government – November 1917
Yesterday there was a tart and there were slaves; today there is no tsar, but the slaves remain; tomorrow there will be only tsars…We have lived through the epoch of suppression of the masses we are living in an epoch of suppression of the individual in the name of the masses tomorrow will bring the liberation of the individual – in the name of man.

– Yevgeny Zamyatin, ‘Tomorrow’ (1919) in A Soviet Heretic (1970)

The armistice is signed and the fighting stops at the 11th hour, 11 November 1918
At eleven o’clock this morning came to an end the cruelest and most terrible war that has ever scourged mankind. I hope we may say that thus, this fateful morning, came to an end all wars.

– David Lloyd George, speech in the House of Commons, 11 November 1918

9780199668700Quotations sourced from the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations 

The story behind the cover: Furphies and Whizz-bangs

One hundred years on, the slang of soldiers of the First World War continues to fascinate. In Furphies and Whizz-bangs: Anzac Slang from the Great War Dr Amanda Laugesen draws on primary source material taken from soldiers’ letters, diaries and trench publications, along with contemporary newspapers and books, to bring the language of the Australian soldier to life.

As the Anzac Day centenary approaches, we thought we’d share the story behind the photograph and letters of Furphies and Whizz-bangs. We spoke to designer Kim Ferguson about her experience creating the book’s cover:

  1. What was the brief you were given?
    The brief was for the cover to standout amongst all the other books being published for the centenary of World War One and have a trade feel. It needed to appeal not just people to interested in war, but also the general public, so an appealing, attractive design was needed.
  1. How did you come up with the concept for this cover?
    Usually during the briefing, an idea for a cover direction usually starts to form and after doing lots of research (on war, trade and just general book design) I put together three mood boards (see my mood board presentation below) that showed what I had in mind. Basically three different design themes; Historic writing and storytelling; hand drawn notes done in the field and bold graphic images combined with modern type;

ANZAC mood board 1

ANZAC mood board 2

ANZAC mood board 3

Source: Mood boards from Kim Ferguson Design

  1. What made you choose the photograph on the cover?
    I found the cover image on the Australian War Memorial website after spending hours getting lost in the many amazing historical photos. The cover image stood out as it seemed to give the right feelings about the laconic digger, the sense of mateship and the right war atmosphere that reflected the books contents.
  1. What is your favourite thing about the cover?
    I think my favourite aspect of the cover is the way the soft blue background contrasts so beautifully with the old, faded letters and the lovely textural handwriting.
  1. What did you enjoy most about working on this cover?
    I loved delving into the language the diggers used and reading some of the amazing letters they wrote back to their friends and family at home.
  1. What was the most challenging aspect?
    The most challenging aspect was to design the cover so it had a historical feel but also looked contemporary!
  1. What is something about this cover we might not know?
    That the handwritten letters underneath the photos are actual letters written by diggers from the front lines. And that on the reverse of the actual hard-copy of the photo there is a lovely handwritten letter by Pte Oliver Arnold Harris (the brother of the man on the left of the photo).

You can view the photo used on the cover of Furphies and Whizz-bangs (and read the message written on the back) in the Australian War Memorial collection. The portrait depicts Private Edgar Henry Harris of the 33rd Battalion and two unnamed men of the 33rd and 36th Battalions.

The letters featured on the cover were written by Sergeant Wilbert Berg of the 18th Infantry Battalion and can also be read on the Australian War Memorial website. Spanning 1915-18, this correspondence tells of Berg’s departure on the HMAT Ceramic, training in Egypt and experience landing at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli.

9780195597356Furphies and Whizz-bangs: Anzac Slang from the Great War

Charlotte Brontë was born on this day

Charlotte Brontë was born 199 years ago today at Thornton, West Riding of Yorkshire. The third child of a clergyman and elder sister of Emily and Ann Brontë, Charlotte was employed as a teacher and governess before achieving literary success with the publication of Jane Eyre.

To celebrate her birthday, here are five interesting particulars about Charlotte Brontë’s life and writings:

9780199535590 1. The oppressive Lowood school of Jane Eyre was based on the harsh conditions of Brontë’s own early education at the Cowan Bridge boarding school. Her two elder sisters, Maria and Elizabeth both fell ill while attending the school and died shortly after.


97801995366582. Education played an important role in Charlotte Brontë’s life. Brontë studied and taught both locally and abroad, and even attempted to open a school with her sisters (but was unsuccessful). Brontë’s experiences teaching at a Belgium boarding school would later provide inspiration for her novel Villette.

3. Brontë and her sisters originally published their works under the pseudonym of ‘Bell’ as Acton (Ann), Ellis (Emily) and Currer (Charlotte). Ann and Charlotte would later have to prove their separate identities, after their publisher believed that Jane Eyre and Tenant of Wildfell Hall were written by a singular author.

4. The writing and publication of Shirley was a period of grief and suffering for Brontë with the deaths of her sisters Emily (1848) and Ann (1849) and brother Branwell, leaving Charlotte as the only surviving Brontë child. Shirley is Brontë’s only published novel not written in a first-person narrative.

5. Following the success of Jane Eyre, Brontë spent time in London and began moving in literary circles, where she became acquainted with authors Elizabeth Gaskell, William Thackeray and Harriet Martineau. Gaskell would later go on to write Charlotte’s biography The Life of Charlotte Brontë.

Want to know more about Charlotte Bronte?

9780199554768Oxford World’s Classics
The Life of Charlotte Bronte


9780199576968Oxford World’s Classics
Selected Letters


Written by Stephanie Swain, Higher Education – Product and Marketing Specialist

Commemorating 100 years

Between 2014 and 2018 Australia will remember the Anzac Centenary, marking 100 years since World War One. To commemorate, we continue to publish a range of essential history and literature books. Explore Australia’s role in the First World War with our Centenary History of Australia and the Great War series or examine the slang of the trenches in Furphies and Whizz-bangs. Don’t miss our special centenary offer below.

9780195597356Furphies and Whizz-bangs: Anzac Slang from the Great War
This book tells the story of the First World War through an examination of the slang used by Australian soldiers. Drawing on a range of primary source material taken from soldiers’ letters, diaries and trench publications, along with contemporary newspapers and books, the language of the Australian soldiers is brought to life. It tells us of the everyday grumblings of the soldiers, the horrors of the battlefield, and the humour they used as they tried to endure the war.

Great-war-seriesThe Centenary History of Australia and the Great War series
A new 5-volume series providing a fresh perspective on Australia’s involvement in the First World War.

Volume 1: Australia and the War in the Air
Volume 2: The War with the Ottoman Empire
Volume 3: The War with Germany
Volume 4: The War at Home
Volume 5: The Australian Imperial Force

9780195578584In All Respects Ready: Australia’s Navy in World War One
Written by Australia’s foremost naval historian, In All Respects Ready presents the most comprehensive and authoritative account of the Australian Navy’s involvement in World War I yet published. Impeccably researched, and drawing on a wealth of previously untapped official reports, intelligence summaries and private diaries, this book offers far more than a chronicle of historical fact. Crafting the definitive work on this largely ignored chapter of Australian history, the author presents an engaging narrative of the war at sea that brings to life both the human element and a richly depicted sense of place.

9780199663385The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War
The Oxford History of the First World War brings together in one volume many of the most distinguished historians of the conflict, in an account that matches the scale of the events. From its causes to its consequences, from the Western Front to the Eastern, from the strategy of the politicians to the tactics of the generals, they chart the course of the war and assess its profound political and human consequences. This highly illustrated revised edition contains significant new material to mark the 100th anniversary of the war’s outbreak.

9780198704478The New Oxford Book of War Poetry
There can be no area of human experience that has generated a wider range of powerful feelings than war. Jon Stallworthy’s classic anthology spans centuries of human experience of conflict, from David’s Lament for Saul and Jonathon, and Homer’s Iliad to the finest poems of the First and Second World Wars, and beyond. The roll-call of writers is huge – more than 150 celebratory ‘war-songs’ to the twentieth century’s darker poetic responses to ‘man’s inhumanity to man’. Here are Virgil and Chaucer, Spenser and Donne, Marvell and Dryden; Coleridge, Shelley, and Browning; Hugo, Whitman, and Rike, as well as the whole sweep of twentieth-century writers.

9780199665389The Month that Changed the World: July 1914
On 28 June 1914 the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in the Balkans. Five fateful weeks later the Great Powers of Europe were at war. Much time and ink has been spent ever since trying to identify the ‘guilty’ person or state responsible, or alternatively attempting to explain the underlying forces that ‘inevitably’ led to war in 1914. Unsatisfied with these explanations, Gordon Martel now goes back to the contemporary diplomatic, military, and political records to investigate the twists and turns of the crisis afresh, with the aim of establishing just how the catastrophe really unfurled.

Special centenary offer:

20% off and free delivery*
Discount code: ANZAC100
To take advantage of this special offer, visit the Oxford University Press website and enter the discount code ANZAC100 at the checkout.


*Online offer only available to Australian customers. New Zealand customers free call 0800 442 502 or email to receive the same discount on the NZ price. Offer valid only for selected titles above and cannot be combined with any other offers. Offer expires 31st May 2015.

Rediscovering words from the Great War

In this article, reproduced from our latest issue of Ozwords, Amanda Laugesen takes a look at slang terms used by Aussie soldiers during the First World War.

In my recent book, Furphies and Whizz-bangs: Anzac Slang from the Great War, I had the opportunity to revisit some of the classic collections of war slang, including the Australian publication Digger Dialects, written in 1919 by W.H. Downing, and the British Songs and Slang of the British Soldier: 1914–1918, compiled by John Brophy and Eric Partridge and published in 1930. I also took another look at the unpublished manuscript collection compiled by A.G. Pretty of the staff of the Australian War Memorial, ‘A Glossary of Slang and Peculiar Terms in Use in the A.I.F.’, collected in the period 1921 to 1924. (It is available online through the Australian National Dictionary Centre website.)

These glossaries have always been a rich source of evidence for the slang terms used by Australian soldiers, but in the past finding other evidence for these terms in contemporary records was difficult. While troop publications and soldiers’ letters and diaries allowed us to trace some of the terms in the context of wartime use, others remained unattested anywhere other than in the glossaries. The advent of the internet, especially the digitisation of newspapers, has in part changed this. In researching my book I was able to use Trove, the National Library of Australia’s gateway to digitised Australian newspapers, to trace terms for which we hitherto had little or no evidence. This gave me a broader understanding of the language of Australian soldiers, and also suggested the ways in which newspapers became a means of communicating the words, thoughts, and feelings of soldiers to a broad home readership.

Terms for which Trove provided additional evidence included:

mother’s pet, from the initials ‘M.P.’ and referring to a military policeman. This term was included in Downing’s collection but no other evidence was located. One reference was found in Trove in a humorous item in a 1918 newspaper: Garge: ‘I see you’ve got M.P. on your sleeve. Be you a member of Parliament, then?’ Military Policeman (sarcastically): ‘No, I’m mother’s pet.’ (Cobram Courier, 31 October 1918, p. 3)

Parapet Joe, a term for a German machine-gunner whose gunfire would prevent a soldier from looking over the parapet of a trench. Although mentioned in several slang dictionaries as a First World War term, it was not well attested. I found evidence of Australian soldiers using the term in newspapers from 1917. For example, a Tasmanian newspaper, the Zeehan and Dundas Herald, noted in its ‘News from the Front’ column: ‘Have had the bullets whistling over my head in the trench like a swarm of bees around a man. One German in particular we call “Parapet Joe” can almost play a tune with his machine gun. Goes from one end to the other of our section, and just chips up the edge of the parapet right along.’ (22 March, p. 4)

pig-stabber, a term for a bayonet. This was found only in Downing and Pretty’s collections, and is a variant of pig-sticker, recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary. A search of Trove turned up additional evidence: An Australian signaller wrote of his experiences at Gallipoli, saying ‘I set out with my pig-stabber ready and the magazine full of “Turkish delight,” and reached a communication trench going off from the main trench. There I found a Turk in a good hole throwing bombs.’ (Adelaide Daily Herald, 6 January 1916, p. 2)

The fact that these terms can be traced in Australian newspapers from the wartime period suggests that people at home were well aware of many of the slang and other war terms that emerged during the war. This in turn suggests that Australians at home were more aware of the realities of war than is sometimes assumed. While soldiers would not have revealed all of their experiences in letters home (especially in those that found their way into print), they did make liberal use of slang and technical terms. A term such as pig-stabber left little to the imagination.

One of the most exciting findings of my research was this connection between the language of the front and home. In recent years scholars have increasingly argued for understanding the ways the culture of home and fighting front intersected; the rich online archives of newspapers and the study of language provide us with evidence that further complicates our understanding of what people at home understood of the soldier’s experience.

Amanda-LaugesenDr Amanda Laugesen is Director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre, ANU. She completed her PhD in the History Program at the ANU in 2000, and subsequently worked as a research editor at the Australian National Dictionary Centre, ANU, as well as undertaking teaching in the History Department. Amanda’s research includes publications in the areas of historical memory, the history of reading, libraries and publishing, cultural history (with a particular interest in the cultural history of war), the history of Australian English, and lexicography.

Our biannual newsletter Ozwords contains articles on various aspects of English, especially Australian English, in partnership with the Australian National Dictionary Centre. If you are interested in reading more on Australian English and hearing news from the Australian National Dictionary Centre, why not subscribe?

The iconic ANZAC biscuit

ANZAC biscuitsAn Australian icon, these crunchy biscuits originated during World War 1. It is generally believed that the ANZAC biscuit were created by the Australian and New Zealand wives, mothers, sisters and sweethearts who wanted to make a treat for their loved ones that could survive the long journey to the front, that’s why they keep particular well.

In celebration of these iconic biscuits, we’re sharing our favourite recipe for a crunchy ANZAC biscuit, but if you prefer a chewier version, reduce the baking time to 18 minutes.

Makes:  36
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 20 min
Special equipment: 2 baking trays, baking paper, large bowl, small saucepan, egg slide, wire rack


1 cup (150g) plain flour
1 cup (100g) rolled oats
1 cup (250g) caster sugar
¾ cup (70g) desiccated coconut
½ cup (125g) butter
1 tablespoon (20ml) golden syrup
1 teaspoon (5g) baking soda
2 tablespoon (40 ml) boiling water


  1. Preheat oven to 150° C. Grease 2 baking trays or line with baking paper.
  2. Sift flour into large bowl.
  3. Add oats, sugar and coconut. Mix well to combine.
  4. Melt butter and golden syrup in a small saucepan on low heat.
  5. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water and add to butter mixture. Stir to combine.
  6. Stir butter mixture into dry ingredients.
  7. Using your hands, shape tablespoons of mixture into balls and flatten.
  8. Arrange on trays, allowing space for biscuits to spread.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Loosen from baking tray immediately with egg slide.
  10. Leave biscuits to cool on trays for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack.
  11. Store in airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

The Food BookThis recipe is taken from Oxford’s The Food Book.

Remembering Anzac Day – how Australia grieved in the early years

As we draw closer to the day where our country’s tradition is to remember, we thought we’d take a look back at how Australian’s began commemorating ‘Anzac day’ in those first few years.

This is an excerpt from chapter 28** from the forthcoming The Centenary History of Australia and the Great War Series  – Volume 4: The War at Home by John Connor, Peter Stanley and Peter Yule.

The War at Home coverExcerpt from Chapter 28
Remembering: Anzac, Scott’s History and War’s Effects
‘The magnitude of a country’s bereavement’: Anzac Days

‘Anzac’ (soon transmuting from acronym to word) came to sum up the Australian desire to reflect on what the war had meant. What was the first Anzac Day? At least four explanations exist of the origins of the idea of Anzac, the most enduring legacy of Australia’s Great War. Gareth Knapman has shown that Adelaide held an ‘Anzac day’ on 15 October 1915, a renaming of the traditional eight-hours festival. Eric Andrews dubbed the seemingly ‘spontaneous’ ceremonies held in Cairo and London on 25 April 1916 ‘a propaganda triumph’.

Early in 1916 the Bulletin urged the government to ‘take out patent rights for the name “Anzac”’. Unless it did, the name would be used by ‘every quack and dead-beat from Port Darwin to Stewart Island, foreseeing Anzac tearooms, potatoes and pills’. After the war, it hoped, Australians would ‘hold its name only in our songs and traditions’. By 1917 Anzac Day had become established as a major fund-raising day. Sydney’s George Street became ‘a live antbed’ with all of those trying to get into the free concert in the Town Hall, with 3000 people—twice its capacity—trying to get in. At the ecumenical service earlier that day the wife of the Governor-General, Lady Helen Munro Ferguson, dressed in mourning garb as ‘a tribute to the dead of Gallipoli’ and a reminder that Anzac Day at first had no connotation beyond the Dardanelles.

On the first anniversary of the invasion of Gallipoli the Bulletin’s Red Page ran the products of a competition for ‘The Anzac Sonnet’. Although the judges found many ‘fatally flawed by technical errors’ (such gaffes as rhyming ‘saw’ with ‘war’), they demonstrated that at the time the identification of Gallipoli with, as Bill Gammage later put it, ‘nationhood, brotherhood and sacrifice’ had already begun. The journalist Guy Innes, despite the solecism of using the awkward ‘withnesseth’, wrote of the Anzacs being ‘baptised by fire’ who ‘made fair Australia’s honour with their dying breath’. The winner of the competition, Bartlett Adamson, expressed the essence of Anzac:

And Anzac now is an enchanted shore;
A tragic splendour, and a holy name;
A deed eternity will still acclaim;
A loss that crowns the victories of yore …

In 1915 enough babies to fill a crèche were christened ‘Anzac’, although the Protection of Anzac regulations curtailed that, and prevented bereaved mothers naming houses after the place where their sons died. ‘Mother of One’ objected that ‘we’ve got into the way of calling the little pet “Anzay” [sic]’ and, wondering whether to use his second name, ‘Pozières’, concluded: ‘I tell you what, I wish the old war had never started!’ No doubt it was a sentiment widely shared.

To whom did the war now belong? A century on, the rhetoric of official commemoration would assert that ‘all Australians’ shared in the pain and the pride. The contemporary record suggests that just as the experience and sacrifices of war were unevenly distributed, so its memory was felt more in some than others. Anzac Day—the ‘Diggers’ day’—developed through the advocacy of returned soldiers’ organisations, and through the energy of several influential figures, notably Canon David Garland, whose formula of light Christian symbolism found a ready acceptance among those with most cause to want to recall the sacrifices and comradeship of wartime. In a deeply sectarian society Catholics long remained largely excluded from civic rituals, but Anzac comradeship extended beyond the liturgical, most characteristically expressed in the great Anzac Day marches that became the norm in communities throughout the nation by the late 1920s. In the capital cities huge, mostly silent crowds—80 000 in Sydney in 1928—watched columns of returned men—perhaps 15 000 of them—marching to reunions and commemorative gatherings. By 1930, aided by the introduction of the microphone and the wireless, the ‘dawn service’ had become established as the uniform commencement to a morning of solemn remembrance, albeit one typically shared in the privacy of a living room.

Although, as we have seen, the war intruded into homes and communities, the dead lay in graves and (for about a third of them on battlefields) far away. Almost no Australian parents were granted the opportunity to mourn at their dead son’s graveside, ‘a crucial condition of wartime loss’ for Australians, Bart Ziino judges. (The exceptions were those who died lingering and often painful deaths in hospitals at home or who died post-war.) Comrades, brothers, chaplains, units and ultimately the war graves authorities went to considerable trouble to send to families depictions and descriptions of, as a booklet put it, Where the Australians Rest. This brought a measure of consolation; perhaps as much as they expected.

Pat Jalland, the premier authority on Australian ways of dying, concedes that the surprisingly limited evidence of how families actually coped with soldiers’ deaths leaves us largely ignorant of all but the more extreme cases. One is Garry Roberts, whose enormous memorial scrapbooks in the State Library of Victoria testify to his obsessive search for certainty about his son Frank’s death. Another is John Cooper, who, traumatised by his experience as a stretcher-bearer at Pozières, was so violent towards his family that they bured him in 1935 in an unmarked grave. Jalland is surely right in observing that ‘large numbers of parents and widows may have remained in a state of chronic grief’. But she shares with the premier scholar of war memorials in Australia, Ken Inglis, a scepticism over the consolatory value of the public war memorials largely constructed in the years after the war, too late to serve as ‘sites of healing meditation’. At the same time, the stereotype of the elderly bereaved mother laying a wreath at a municipal war memorial remains a compelling image.

It was, a writer in the Lone Hand thought, ‘not possible to find even a single individual in the Commonwealth who was not an acquaintance at least of someone who died a hero’s death’. (The easy recourse to describing war dead as ‘heroes’, long in abeyance, enjoyed a renaissance in popular use a century on, an expression of the politicisation of more recent wars through which we see the Great War.) Even at the time, however, ‘in the magnitude of a country’s bereavement there is something which leads to almost callous indifference’; that is, ultimately bereavement was a personal and a family matter. Efforts both determined and sensitive have been made to penetrate the privacy of grief, yet ultimately what has been most studied is that which was most visible: the extraordinary phenomenon of war memorials. This is not to say that memorials do not reveal a complex pattern of personal and public grief, mourning and memory, but they do not disclose the full emotional impact of the war; that is, perhaps, gone beyond recall. Although the difficulties of learning the secrets of a private people’s hearts have so far made it almost impossible to discern the real effects of the war, hints suggest that the war, and the psychic disruption it brought, made real inroads into the certainties prevailing in 1914. As Jill Roe found, the Theosophical Society of Australia doubled its membership by 1919, to more than 2300. Conversely, as the 1933 census disclosed, ‘the Christian churches had lost their hold on as many as 20 per cent of the population’. Some might have embraced the consolations of Christianity in wartime, but for others the travails of loss and trauma eroded their faith.

As Ken Inglis has shown in his masterly study of ‘war memorials in the Australian landscape’, the commemoration of war barely impinged upon Australian consciousness in 1914. From 1915 memorials began to appear, disturbingly unfinished in lists of names and date ranges. War memorials of many kinds became a part of life. (If asked to unveil an honour board, a woman asked the Sydney Mail’s ‘Housewife’ whether it was necessary to say anything. ‘Not if she is nervous’, was the reply.) Memorials naturally reflected the communities that erected them. Bill Stegemann thought that they expressed a mixture of ‘grief and pride’. (Or indeed unease—Koroit’s Methodists began an honour roll in 1916 but, reflecting its ambivalence in wartime, the town as a whole took until 1928 to erect a memorial.)

Disputes occurred over the position, size, cost and especially the design of memorials. Wagga’s archway proceeded only after a law suit; Goulburn’s rocky hillside site was among thirty-seven designs considered and succeeded only through the advocacy of Mary Gilmore, but even then controversy dogged the venture for longer than the war had lasted. Sectarianism almost scuppered the unique memorial at Berridale, a township on the Monaro, which erected a marble wayside crucifix of the kind the AIF had encountered in France and Belgium. Although the cross was proposed by the town’s Anglican minister, the state government’s advisory board considered it ‘too overtly Roman Catholic’. After ‘intense difficulty and frequent agitation’, as the RSL newspaper Reveille reported, it was accepted, most townsfolk accepting that the figure of the crucified Christ was a fitting symbol. The 600 people who attended the unveiling in November 1922 applauded references to the memorial’s originality, a curious blend of solemn remembrance and local boosting. The great debate concerned the form such memorials should take. Neville Howse, VC, spoke for those who favoured useful memorials: ‘no cold stone or brass for me; gather a big lumping sum … and expend it later in assisting the education of the loved ones of those who have made the great sacrifice’.

Knowing of the widespread desire to erect statues, the New South Wales Public Monuments Advisory Board advised that gateways, obelisks, arches or gardens would be preferable to a poorly executed statue. In fact, most memorials do not conform to the archetypal digger-on-a-pillar. A vogue for ‘Trees as Memorials’ arose.19 The movement for living memorials was most strongly taken up in Victoria, yet one of the first memorial trees was planted in Annandale in Sydney to commemorate Harry Jiffkins, the suburb’s first dead ‘hero’, who died on 6 May 1915. In 1916 the local council planted a tree that, commentators thought, would become known as the ‘Jiffkins Tree’, at which ‘children of future generations will be told the story of why Harry Jiffkins fought, and the splendid cause in which he died’. An elaborate service was held in the street in May 1918 but, sadly, the tree no longer exists, nor is Harry remembered locally.

**Please note: This is an excerpt from a manuscript. This book is currently being edited and proofread and the final product may differ.

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