This walk is voted one of the world’s top ten literary tours by Lonely Planet. Explore hidden bookshops, writers and literary settings in our UNESCO City of Literature with its rich history of authors, publishers, books, libraries and literary monuments. We also write books. In 2015 two of our own books won Victorian Community History Awards.
ADVENTURE into specialist and independent bookstores, Many are secreted in wonderful heritage buildings in historic lanes.
ASK us to design a tour around your needs.
PURCHASE books if you wish.
DISCOVER the history of Melbourne writers, booksellers, bookshops.
LEARN how Melbourne’s literature grows out of the particular geography, history, milestones, experiences and individuals of the city.
READ extracts from stories, poems and books connected to the streets of Melbourne.
SEE – BOOKINGS AND PRICES – FOR INDIVIDUALS, GROUPS AND SCHOOLS
SEE – Also our many OTHER SCHOOL PROGRAMS. – Explorer, Federation, Aboriginal, Early Melbourne, Lanes, Literature, ‘Runner’, Street Art and more.
Many thanks for such an interesting and informative walk today. I read your literary notes on the way home on the train and found it put the finishing touches to it. Karen 6/3/14
Thanks for taking our students on this fascinating tour. Our visiting students were thrilled and loved the history and the literary identities you gave to each student. We don’t have bookshops like this in Singapore! Tao Nan Primary School, May 2015
A much belated thank you for the fascinating City of Literature Tour which you led on the 13th April. Your tour was terrific and I’ve highly recommended it to friends. I look forward to going back to some of the places we visited. Doug and Di McCarthy 2016.
I’m still trying to file away all the information from yesterday’s Literature Walk. It was wonderful and I learnt so much, including how much more I need to learn. Marilyn, March 2016.
Melbourne has legendary shops and their booksellers eg Neil at Hylands, poet Kris Hemmensley at Collected Works, Kay and Muriel Craddock at the Antiquarian, Max Stern. There are niche stores in the CBD that specialise in genres that include art, rail, photography and design, military and transport, foreign language, popular, antiquarian, poetry, crime, science fiction, second hand, philosophy, paranormal, comics and spiritualism. We also run a literature tour in St Kilda.
Great books to read about Melbourne
Some well known Melburnians were asked what books they thought most crystallized the essence of their city.
- Melbourne Writers Festival director Steve Grimwade: Christos Tsiolkas’ Loaded and ‘The Slap’; Poets Alicia Sometimes’ St Kilda, Kieran Carroll’s ‘Talking to Richmond Station’ Shane Maloney’s trilogy featuring Murray Whelan.
- Author Robert Newton: Stiff‘, the first of the Murray Whelan trilogy, ‘
- Author Kate Holden: Helen Garner’s ‘Monkey Grip’
- Media figure Libbi Gorr: Jeff Apter’s new book, ‘Shirl: The Life of Legendary Larrikin – Graeme ‘Shirley’ Strachan‘.
- Novelist Honey Brown: Lily Bragge’s memoir, ‘My Dirty Shiny Life’
- Author Toni Jordan: Michelle de Kretser’s third novel, ‘The Lost Dog’
- The Big Issue books editor: Toni Jordan’s latest novel, ‘Nine Days’
- Writer-performer Jane Clifton and ABC Books and Arts Daily presenter: Fergus Hume’s 1886 thriller ‘The Mystery of a Hansom Cab’
- Michael Cathcart: Fergus Hume’s 1886 thriller ‘The Mystery of a Hansom Cab’
- Author and birdwatcher Sean Dooley: H.W. Wheelwright’s 1861 ‘Bush Wanderings of a Naturalist’
- Bookseller and writer Corrie Perkin: Kristin Otto’s ‘Yarra: A Diverting History of Melbourne’s Murky River’
- Historian David Day: Tony Moore’s recent’ Dancing with Empty Pockets’
- Poet and broadcaster Alicia Sometimes: Jeff and Jill Sparrow’s ‘Radical Melbourne: A Secret History’.
- Writer and bookseller Josephine Rowe: Lisa Lang’s ‘Utopian Man’
John Bailey, The Age, August 12, 2012
Read about the rich history of Melbourne’s books and writers from early Melbourne until today by Des Cowley and John Arnold ( www.emelbourne.net.au)
In Flinders Lane, near Roach’s store,Were bogg’d a dozen, less or more;
Two dapper dames, return’d from shopping,
Were, much against their wishes, stopping:
A brace of New Chums, sprucely drest,
In long-tail blues, – their very best, –
Look’d rueful at their spatter’d breeches,
Vow’d Melbourne’s Streets were beastly ditches
George Wright’s poem ‘Adventures on a winter’s night in Melbourne 1857
The creative imagining of Melbourne began when John Batman sailed up the Yarra River on 8 June 1835 and wrote in his journal ‘this will be the place for a village’. The figures of John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner, generally cited as the founders of Melbourne, have been largely passed over by literary writers. Batman was the subject of the play Batmania (1997) and his courtship of his future wife Eliza features in Robert Close’s novel Eliza Callaghan (1957). Fawkner is a minor character in Eric Lambert’s The five bright stars (1954). However, the convict William Buckley (1780-1856) has provided writers with one of their most enduring characters. The title of James Bonwick’s biography, published in the year of its subject’s death, William Buckley, the life of the Wild White Man and his Port Phillip Black Friends (1856), was followed by Edward Williams’ De Buckley, or incidents of Australian life (1887), Marcus Clarke’s ‘William Buckley, the wild white man’ (1871) and John Bernard O’Hara’s Songs of the south: second series: The wild white man and other poems (1895), and in the 20th century Alan Garner’s Strandloper (1996), Barry Hill’s award-winning book of poetry Ghosting William Buckley (1993), and Craig Robertson’s Buckley’s hope (1980).
Richard Howitt, an early settler to the Port Phillip District, published Impressions of Australia Felix (1845). ‘The native woman’s lament’, narrated by a Kulin woman, is a sympathetic lyric about the loss of traditional hunting lands. A similar sentiment is to be found in Kinahan Cornwallis’ Yarra Yarra, or, the wandering aborigine: a poetical narrative (1857). ‘To the river Yarra’, on the other hand, celebrates the river and the new European settlement on its banks.
Thomas McCombie’s minor novel, The colonist in Australia, or, The adventures of Godfrey Arabin (1845), deals in part with his experiences in the Port Phillip District. Of greater significance is George Henry Haydon’s novel The Australian emigrant (1854), based on his Five years’ experience in Australia Felix (1846), a factual account of his time in the colony. Rolf Boldrewood’sOld Melbourne memories (1884) includes memories of the Melbourne he came to in 1841. Georgiana McCrae arrived in the same year and provides in her journals, edited by her grandson Hugh McCrae and published as Georgiana’s journal in 1934, a detailed account of Melbourne in the 1840s. With her son George Gordon, she is also the subject of the title poem in Christina Mawdesley’s collection The corroboree tree(1944). More …