My Brilliant Career
  • Publication Date: September 17, 2007
  • ISBN: 9781551116778 / 1551116774
  • 296 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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My Brilliant Career

  • Publication Date: September 17, 2007
  • ISBN: 9781551116778 / 1551116774
  • 296 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Written by a teenager living in the Australian bush in the 1890s and originally published in 1901, Miles Franklin’s My Brilliant Career is a candid representation of the aspirations and frustrations of a young woman constrained by middle-class social arrangements, especially the pressure to marry. My Brilliant Career has continued to delight readers and to cause them to locate their personal realities in the struggle of Franklin’s heroine, Sybylla Melvyn, to recognize and to pursue what she most wants and needs in her life.

In addition to the rich selection of appendices, this edition includes maps of early twentieth-century Australia and a critical introduction that outlines political and economic developments relevant to the novel, traces the literary landscape upon which My Brilliant Career first appeared, and describes the reception and interpretation given the novel in the century after its initial publication (including the celebrated 1979 film adaptation).


“Bruce K. Martin’s deep understanding of Australian history and literature informs both his textual analyses and his editorial choices. He strikes a praiseworthy balance in his introduction—writing with the precision that will appeal to scholars and the clarity that will keep it accessible to students. I particularly appreciate the book’s added features, such as the chronology, appendices, and bibliography. The appendices are judiciously selected, and provide readers with a clear sense of the climate of the book’s production and reception. With Martin’s expert guidance, the reader deftly navigates the work’s many complexities.” — Linda Watts, University of Washington Bothell

Map 1: Australia and New Zealand in 1904
Map 2: Miles Franklin Country
Miles Franklin and My Brilliant Career: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

My Brilliant Career

Appendix A: Correspondence Related to the Publication of My Brilliant Career

  1. Miles Franklin to Angus & Robertson (30 March 1899)
  2. Miles Franklin to Henry Lawson (19 November 1899)
  3. Henry Lawson to Miles Franklin (January 1900)
  4. Miles Franklin to Henry Lawson (19 April 1900)
  5. William Blackwood to James B. Pinker (29 January 1901)
  6. Miles Franklin to William Blackwood (6 February 1901)
  7. James B. Pinker to Miles Franklin (15 April 1901)
  8. Miles Franklin to James B. Pinker (18 November 1901)
  9. James B. Pinker to Miles Franklin (30 December 1901)

Appendix B: Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Australian Feminist Perspectives

  1. From Ada Cambridge, Unspoken Thoughts (1887)
    1. “Fallen”
    2. “An Answer”
  2. From Louisa Lawson, The Dawn (June 1889)
    1. “Unhappy Love Matches”
  3. From Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Australian Woman’s Sphere (January 1902)
    1. “The Two Laws”
  4. From Barbara Baynton, Bush Studies (1902)
    1. “The Chosen Vessel”
  5. Rose Scott (1847-1925)
    1. “Woman to Man”
  6. From Miles Franklin, Some Everyday Folk and Dawn (1909)

Appendix C: Early Responses to My Brilliant Career

  1. Henry Lawson, “Preface” to the first edition of My Brilliant Career (1901)
  2. The Academy (July/December 1901)
  3. “Recent Novels,” The Times (23 August 1901)
  4. “A Bookful of Sunlight,” The Bulletin (23 September 1901)
  5. The Weekly Critical Review (17 September 1903)
  6. “Miles Franklin,” Australian Woman’s Sphere (15 April 1904)

Select Bibliography

Bruce K. Martin is Professor Emeritus of English at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.