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's Old 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).
On 26 January 1839 the Port Phillip Gazette, under the heading 'Original poetry', published the poem 'Melbourne' by Coloniensis:
A site thus fix'd, a Town is plan'd; the streets
At angles right are then divided off,
And Anglicised, the whole a statesman's name
They give and call it Melbourne.
The imagining of Melbourne's streets in the first years of European settlement is given fullest expression in Robin Annear's Bearbrass (1995), a semi-fictional work which creatively imagines the everyday bustle, noise and daily muck of the new colony. Where Annear brings a modern-day perspective to her project, George Wright's poem 'Adventures on a winter's night in Melbourne' (1857) evoked mostly the muck:
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!
Gold-rush Melbourne saw a dramatic increase in the number of newspapers and magazines publishing local literature, giving rise to a local publishing boom. Emigrant guides and memoirs, such as William Howitt's Land labour and gold (1855) and William Kelly's Life in Victoria (1860), abounded but writers such as John Sherer and William Thomes published accounts containing equally as much fiction as fact. J.R. Houlding's ('Old Boomerang') novel about the adventures of a new chum, Australian capers: or Christopher Cockle's colonial experience (1867), is partly set in Melbourne of the gold years. Celeste de Chabrillan's fictional account of life and violence on the Victorian gold fields Les voleurs d'or (1857) was written in St Kilda but not published until after her return to Paris in 1856. Her memoirs, published in 1877 as Un Deuil au bout du monde, and translated and issued as The French consul's wife in 1998, provide a portrait of Melbourne and St Kilda during the gold years. In his newspaper sketches 'Confessions of a naughty boy of the fifties', reprinted in his book Impressions of a Victorian abroad (1896), Jonathan Bear recalled seeing G.V. Brooke at the Theatre Royal, and visiting Braid's Dancing Saloon on the corner of Little Collins and Russell streets, and Bourke Street's Wild Beast Show.
Judged by Marcus Clarke as the 'best Australian novel that has been, and probably will be written', Henry Kingsley's colonial romance Recollections of Geoffrey Hamlyn (1859) presents an optimistic view of Melbourne 'a great city, which, in its amazing rapidity of growth, utterly surpasses all human experience'. His later novel The Hillyars and the Burtons (1865) includes a newspaper circulation battle between two Melbourne newspapers: 'The Mohawk' (Age) and 'The Palmerston sentinel' (Argus). Melbourne's newfound prosperity was also celebrated and satirised in W.M. Akhurst's allegorical pantomime The house that Jack built (1869).
Several novels dealing with Melbourne after the gold rush attempted to provide more than colonial exotica for English readers. Henry Newton Goodrich's Raven Rockstow (1864), subtitled 'A pedlar's dream: a romance of Melbourne', recounts in the form of a dream the experiences of a hawker in his rambles round the poorer inner suburbs that Goodrich, a Collingwood pawnbroker, knew so well. Benjamin Farjeon's Grif: the story of a colonial life (1866) avoided celebration to recount the story of a waif living in 'one of the most thickly-populated parts of Melbourne city, where poverty and vice struggle for breathing space, and where narrow lanes and filthy thoroughfares jostle each other'. The English writer R.H. Horne, resident in Melbourne during the 1850s and 1860s and later the subject of Barry Oakley's play The ship's whistle (1979), republished his major work Orion in Melbourne in 1854 and wrote the lyric masque The south sea sisters (1866) for the 1866 Inter-colonial Exhibition. His impressions of Melbourne were recorded in his Australian facts and prospects (1859). Henry Handel Richardson drew on her own experiences as a boarder at the Presbyterian Ladies' College in East Melbourne in the 1880s for her first novel The getting of wisdom (1910). Her great trilogy The fortunes of Richard Mahony (1917-29), based on the experiences of her father who had emigrated to the Victorian gold fields in 1852, presents a vivid recreation of colonial experiences and life in Melbourne from the 1850s to the mid-1870s.
Journalism provided an outlet for some of the most acutely observed representations of urban life in Melbourne during the 1860s and 1870s, including Marcus Clarke's series of sketches 'Lower Bohemia', published in the Australasian in 1869 and reissued as A colonial city (1973), and John Stanley James' The vagabond papers (1877-78). Clarke was one of the founders of the Yorick Club in 1868, a bohemian haunt regularly frequented by Adam Lindsay Gordon and Henry Kendall, and his brief editorial and publishing stints included time with the Melbourne literary periodicals Colonial monthly (1868-69), Humbug (1869-70) and the Australian journal (1870-71), but little of his published fiction is set in Melbourne. The Melbourne scenes included in the original version of His natural life, serialised in the Australian Journal in 1870-72, were deleted from print versions of the book until Penguin released the full text under its original title His natural life in 1970.
In 1885 the visiting English journalist George Augustus Sala captured the boom ethos of the 1880s when he coined the phrase 'Marvellous Melbourne'. His articles, originally published in the Daily Telegraph newspaper in London in September 1885, were reprinted as The land of the golden fleece (1995). Marvellous Melbourne is also captured in Alexander Sutherland's Victoria and its metropolis and T.W.H. Leavitt's The jubilee history of Victoria and Melbourne, both published in 1888, and Sala's phrase provided a title for Alfred Dampier's drama of the same name, first performed in 1889, and Jack Hibberd and John Romeril's musical drama Marvellous Melbourne (1970). Ada Cambridge's novel The three Miss Kings (1891), serialised in 1882, is set against a background of the 1880 International Exhibition, while A woman's friendship (1988), serialised in the Age between August and October 1889, is set during the Centennial International Exhibition of 1888-89.
The novel that best depicts Melbourne in the 1880s is Fergus Hume's The mystery of a hansom cab (1886). The first popular detective novel, it sold over half a million copies in his lifetime and has rarely been out of print since. It spawned a stage play, several silent films and a contemporary satire The mystery of a wheel barrow, or Gaboriau Gaborooed: an idealistic story of a great and rising colony (1888) by 'W. Humer Ferguson'. Hume set further novels in Melbourne: Madame Midas (1888), and its sequel Miss Mephistopheles (1890). Whereas Hume emphasised the contrast between Melbourne's prosperity and its seamier side, Jessie Couvreur ('Tasma') provides a useful social commentary on Melbourne's urban middle-class society in her novel Uncle Piper of Piper's Hill (1889). The marvellous Melbourne of the 1880s and the subsequent banking crash and depression of the early 1890s provide the subject matter for Marshall Browne's historical novels The gilded cage (1995), The burnt city (1999) and The trumpeting angel (2001). A.L. McCann's The white body of evening (2002) is set in fin de siècle Melbourne.
Visiting overseas writers have recorded their literary responses in memoirs and autobiographies. Joseph Conrad and D.H. Lawrence left no written record of their brief visits to Melbourne but Anthony Trollope's responses to 'the undoubted capital, not only of Victoria but of all Australia' were published in Australia and New Zealand (1873). British poet, novelist and journalist, Francis Adams used the city as the setting for his novels The Melburnians (1892) and Madeline Brown's murder (1887). Visiting in November 1891, Rudyard Kipling thought the city was very 'second hand American'. Mark Twain, who lectured at the Bijou Theatre from 30 October to 2 November 1895, found it 'majestic'. His book Following the equator described preparations for the Melbourne Cup, 'Australia's National Day'. The English socialist Beatrice Webb was similarly amused by the Melbourne Cup obsession and wrote to her sister: 'All the rich women of Australia put on their best dresses for the Cup. I never saw an uglier crowd: a predominance of cheap silks and satins'.
Arthur Conan Doyle, who came to Melbourne in 1920 to further the cause of spiritualism, recorded his experiences in Wanderings of a spiritualist (1921). Made an honorary member of the Melbourne Cricket Club, Doyle managed to avoid attending the Melbourne Cup and instead spent the day on the beach at St Kilda. Kaye Harman's Australia brought to book: responses to Australia by visiting writers, 1836-1939 (1985), and Jan Bassett's Great southern landings (1995), provide details of other writers', like Agatha Christie and H.G. Wells, responses to Melbourne.
Melburnians' love of sport is celebrated in a number of literary works. Horseracing, and particularly the Melbourne Cup, features in a number of poems in Adam Lindsay Gordon's Sea spray and smoke drift (1867) and in crime fiction like Nat Gould's The double event: a tale of the Melbourne Cup (1891), Harold Mercer's story 'The Melbourne Cup mystery' (1927), and Arthur Upfield's The Great Melbourne Cup mystery (1996), and William Anderson and Temple Harrison's play Winning ticket (1900). Peter Porter's poem 'Phar Lap in the Melbourne Museum' (1961) celebrates one of the city's great icons.
Alan Hopgood's play And the big men fly (1969) and David Williamson's The Club (1978) focus on football, as do Bruce Dawe's poem 'Life cycle' (1968), John Morrison's short story 'Black night in Collingwood' (1955), Barry Oakley's A salute to the great McCarthy (1970), Barry Dickins' You'll only go in for your mates (1991) and Royboys (1987), Peter Fitzpatrick and Barbara Wenzel's novel Death in the backpocket (1993), Alan Wearne's crime novel, Kicking in danger: the footy novel (1997) and Martin Flanagan's novel fictional biography of the legendary Melbourne sporting figure and father of Australian Rules football T.W. Wills (1835-80), The call (1998).
The late 1880s and early 1890s saw the publication of a number of fictional works that reflected contemporary anxieties. Edward Maitland's The battle of Mordialloc (1888) imagines an independent Australia invaded by a combined force of Russian and Chinese troops. When Melbourne falls to the invaders: 'Mordialloc lay in flames ... Worst of all, the suburbs, and some parts of the town, were almost entirely at the mercy of the lowest of the "larrikin" '. In A.H.'s anonymous pamphlet The Anglo-Russian war of 1900: invasion of Melbourne (around the 1890s), the invading Russians are repulsed, although not before they have 'taken possession of the Victoria Barracks ... Melbourne, South Melbourne, and Port Melbourne Town Halls and railway termini; while a guard surrounded Government House. Most of the military, the Premier, the Mayor, and the Governor were prisoners and hostages for the enemy's demands'. David Andrade's utopian socialist novel The Melbourne riots (1892), sees the working class emancipated, but the fear of invasion by hordes from the north recurs in M. Sweeney's poem 'Melbourne's armageddon' (1912).
The apocalyptic returned in Nevil Shute's On the beach (1957) which has the last survivors of a world devastated by nuclear war waiting for the radiation to arrive in Melbourne. The film, shot on location around the city, led to the famous anti-Melbourne quote incorrectly attributed to the star Ava Gardner: 'On the Beach is a story about the end of the world, and Melbourne sure is the right place to film it'. George Turner's Sea and summer (1987), set in a Melbourne of 2044, imagines the financial system has collapsed and the city been overtaken by tidal waves.
Writing in the early years after Federation, Edward Dyson and C.J. Dennis focused on the city's larrikins. Dyson's Fact'ry 'ands (1906), Benno and the push (1911) and Spats' fact'ry (1914) employ humour and the vernacular language of the underclasses to present a criticism of contemporary urban conditions. Dennis' Songs of a sentimental bloke (1915), the story of a Melbourne larrikin, Bill, who is redeemed from his life with the 'push' by the love of a good woman, pickle factory worker, Doreen, was followed by The moods of Ginger Mick (1916) which added patriotism to the mix.
Other early 20th-century literary works evoked the Melbourne art world. Norman Lindsay's A curate in bohemia (1913) was partly based on his own life as an art student in the late 1890s. William Moore, better known as the first chronicler of the history of Australian art, published two semi-fictional works: City sketches (1905) and Studio sketches (1906). Martin Boyd's Langton family tetralogy, The cardboard crown (1952), A difficult young man (1955), Outbreak of love (1957), When blackbirds sing (1962), along with The Montforts (1928) and Lucinda Brayford (1946) draw on his family history, to provide a contrasting view of English and Melbourne society from the 1860s to the end of World War I.
Later writers were attracted to Melbourne's social history. Capel Boake's novel Painted clay (1917), based on her experiences as a shop assistant and office-worker, is set partly in wartime Melbourne. Frank Hardy's epic Power without glory (1950) offers fictional retelling of the life of John Wren set in the back lanes of Collingwood, or Carringbush, and includes many thinly disguised references to real people and events. His later novel, Who shot George Kirkland? (1981), set in Melbourne from the mid-1940s to the 1980s, concerns author Ross Franklyn whose 1950s novel Power corrupts leads to criminal charges being laid against him. Catholic Archbishop Daniel Mannix, who was critically portrayed in Power without glory as Archbishop Daniel Malone, was the subject of Barry Oakley's play The feet of Daniel Mannix (1975).
The tradition of poets writing odes to commemorate the city's significant anniversaries was longstanding. Melbourne's half-century was celebrated in J. F. Daniels' 'The Jubilee of Melbourne':
Here fifty winters since, by Yarra's stream,
A scattered hamlet found its modest place:
What mind would venture then in wildest dream
Its wondrous growth and eminence to trace?
What seer predict a stripling in the race
Would swift, as Atlanta, win the prize
Of progress, 'neath the World's astonished eyes?
Henry Kendall's cantata 'Euterpe' (1870) was written for the opening of the Melbourne Town Hall, and Mabel Emily Besent-Scott's ('Nemo') 'Centenary ode, for the Melbourne Exhibition' in 1888. Patrick Maloney's 'Sonnets - AD Innuptam' (1879) offered the immortal lines: 'O sweet Queen-city of the golden South,/ Piercing the evening with thy starlit spires', Herman Peuttman's Pen and pencil in Collins Street (1891) and George Essex Evans 'In Collins Street' (1898) both celebrated Melbourne's famous street.
On the city's centenary the mood was more subdued. The winner of the Melbourne Centenary poetry competition, Frank Wilmot's (Furnley Maurice), 'Melbourne and memory', was an early attempt to capture the everyday life of a city through references to familiar places. In 'The Victorian markets recollected in tranquillity', another poem in the anthology, Melbourne odes, Maurice wrote:
When Batman first in Heaven's command Said, 'This is the place for a peanut-stand.' It must have been grand.
Creative writers in this era tended to focus on the bush rather than exploit the wealth of subject material in the city. However, there are several works that depict the city in the grip of the depression. Set in the 1930s, Leonard Mann's The go-getter (1942) recounts the story of returned World War I soldier, Chris Gibbons, attempting to reassert his underlying decency. Marjorie McLeod's one-act play, A shillingsworth (1931), and Glen Tomasetti's Thoroughly decent people (1976), focus on the struggles of families. Alan Marshall used his experience to write both novels and autobiographies providing vivid depictions of Melbourne in the 1930s: How beautiful are thy feet (1949) and This is the grass (1962). Vance Palmer's The Swayne family (1934), his only novel with an urban setting, includes a chapter set during a cricket match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, while Melbourne's literary and bohemian circles of the 1930s are recreated in Judah Waten's novel Season of youth (1966).
This period is also recalled in Hal Porter's Watcher on the cast-iron balcony (1963), which recollects Porter's early childhood in Kensington between 1911 and 1917, and his later experiences as a junior teacher in Williamstown. He returned to the theme in The paper chase (1966), the play Eden House (1969), the story 'At the Galahad' (1949), based on his brief stint as night manager of the then rather seedy George Hotel in St Kilda, and his short memoir 'Melbourne in the thirties' published in the London Magazine in 1962, a brilliant evocation of his time living at 28 Collins Street and working in North Melbourne. A less consequential work is poet Alister Kershaw's Hey days (1991), a memoir about bohemian Melbourne of the 1930s and 1940s. Kershaw's book, set around the Paris end of Collins Street, remembers his friendship with writers such as Geoffrey Dutton and Melbourne art critic Adrian Lawlor, whose sole published novel Horned Capon (1949) is also set in Melbourne of the same period.
Graham McInnes depicted a rather different Melbourne in his literary autobiographies, The road to Gundagai (1965), Humping my bluey (1966), and Goodbye, Melbourne town (1968) beginning with his youth in Malvern, his education at Scotch College, and his brief associations with his mother Angela Thirkell's friends, including classical scholar Alexander Leeper, artists Thea Proctor and Arthur Streeton, and Sir John Monash. However, he was struck primarily by the conservatism of Melbourne's suburbs: 'these immense deserts of brick and terra-cotta, or wood and galvanised iron induce a sense of overpowering dullness, a stupefying sameness, a worthy, plodding, pedestrian, middle-class, low church conformity'.
This view is echoed in the most detailed re-creation of Melbourne between the wars, George Johnston's My brother Jack (1964). While its sequel Clean straw for nothing (1969) is largely set outside Australia, it includes memorable descriptions of Melbourne at the end of the war.
In the postwar era such boasting about 'Marvellous Melbourne' was replaced by a cultural cringe. 'Melburnians ... find it impossible to imagine a song entitled "I Love Melbourne in the springtime" or a movie about dark passions in Murrumbeena could be other than ludicrous', wrote Chris Wallace-Crabbe (Melbourne or the bush, 1963). His The music of division (1959), In light and darknesss (1963) and The amorous cannibal (1985) contain many poems about Melbourne and its suburbs, as does his novel Splinters (1981) set in the 1960s. Fellow University of Melbourne graduate, Vincent Buckley, used Melbourne as a setting for a 27-poem sequence in The golden builders (1976) and his autobiographical Cutting green hay (1983). Alan Wearne's verse novel, The nightmarkets (1986), provides a panoramic view of the city in all its guises, in particular the radical politics of the 1960s to the 1980s, while Pi O's 700-page plus 24 hours (1996) places 1990s multicultural Melbourne under a microscopic lens. Diane Fahey's extended sequence 'Snapshots of a city' (1986) recreates a series of individual photographic moments: 'Carlton, 3am', 'Chadstone, afternoon streets', 'Albert Park, by the lake, 1966', 'Camberwell, the junction, 1978', and K.F. Pearson's Melbourne elegies (1999) translates Goethe's poems to the city. Other individual poems on Melbourne include Bernard O'Dowd's 'The city' (1901), Bruce Dawe's 'The affair: for Melbourne' (1981), Barry Humphries' 'Ode to Camberwell' (1995), Lily Brett's 'In Carlton' (1994), Laurie Duggan's 'Elegy, Melbourne 1940-71' (1976), and Dmitris Tsaloumas' 'Rhapsodic meditation upon the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda' (1990).
The postwar years also saw the advent of new literary magazines such as Meanjin (1944-), along with the rise of realism as the predominant form of literary practice. The Realist Writers Group, established in Melbourne in 1944, published a journal, Realist writer (1952-54) which was incorporated into Overland (1954-), edited by Stephen Murray-Smith. Contributors included David Martin, Frank Hardy, Katharine Susannah Prichard and John Morrison whose novel, The creeping city (1949), is the first to deal with Melbourne's sprawling city growth. Best known as a short story writer, Morrison drew on his experiences as a wharfie for his collection Stories of the waterfront (1984), and published a number of commuter stories, such as 'The blind man's story' based on his observation of fellow passengers on the train to and from Flinders Street Station. Criena Rohan's novel Down by the dockside (1963), set mainly in Port Melbourne from the depression through to the 1950s, covers ground returned to by Amanda Lohrey's The morality of gentlemen (1984) set on the Melbourne waterfront during the industrial disputes of the 1950s. Steven Carroll, in novels such as Remember me, Jimmy James (1992), The art of the engine driver (2001) and the Gift of speed (2004) re-creates suburban Melbourne from the 1930s to the 1960s. Ray Lawler's play, Summer of the seventeenth doll (1957) was to change forever the face of Australian theatre. Written in the domed reading room of the Public (State) Library of Victoria, the play takes place in 1953 in the living room of a Carlton terrace. Two companion pieces, Kid stakes (1975) and Other times (1976), charted the earlier lives of the characters.
In the 1960s and 1970s Melbourne slowly lost its wowser image. Postwar migration, alternative inner-suburban lifestyles and the maturing of the baby-boom generation saw a flowering of imaginative literature. William Dick's novels A bunch of ratbags (1965) and Naked prodigal (1969) re-create the Footscray (thinly disguised as Goodway) of his youth, and provide a record of the gangs of bodgies and widgies that flourished in the 1950s. Melbourne's ethnic diversity had first been recognised in novels like Capel Boake's The dark thread (1936). Subtitled 'A novel of Jewish life' it is set in Melbourne during World War I, Pinchas Goldhar's stories, and Jean Campbell's Brass and cymbals (1933) and The babe is wise (1939), are set in Jewish Carlton. Most prominent of the many Jewish writers was Judah Waten, whose novels included The unbending (1954), Distant land (1964) and So far no further (1971). Other chroniclers of the Jewish experience in Carlton and St Kilda include Yetta Rothberg, Harry Marks, Morris Lurie, Serge Liberman, Rosa Safransky, Lily Brett, Arnold Zable and Leon Silver. Melbourne's other migrant groups have been less widely depicted. Earlier works like Louis Esson's drama 'The sacred place' (1911) dealing with the Asian influence in Melbourne, and Jean Campbell's Greek key pattern (1935) set in a Greek restaurant in Melbourne, were now followed by Richard Beynon's drama The shifting heart (1960), examining the uneasy relationship between Australians and European immigrants in 1950s Collingwood, and David Martin's novel and play The young wife (1962), which tells the story of the intended marriage of a Cypriot migrant girl to a greengrocer and their turbulent lives together as he becomes involved in local Greek politics. Greek immigrants also feature in Rod Usher's Man of marble (1989), Jim Sakkas's Stella's place (1998), and in the poetry of Dmitris Tsaloumas, and Komninos, whose 'Childhood in Richmond' (1983) and 'The other side of Footscray' (1986) employ humour to mask the pain of growing up as a first-generation migrant in Melbourne.
The 1970s saw a sharp rise in the number of Australian literary works with urban settings. Barry Oakley's satirical novel Let's hear it for Prendergast (1970), which attacks many of Melbourne's sacred cows, ends with its lead character, the tallest poet in the world, burning down the Royal Exhibition Building. Melbourne's world of crime and drug-taking are explored in Phil Motherwell's plays and the novellas Sideshow and Mr Bastard (1977). Helen Garner's Monkey grip (1977), with its realistic portrayal of drug-taking and drifting relationships among communal households in Carlton and Fitzroy in the 1970s, set in place a virtual blueprint for the modern inner-city suburban novel, a setting returned to in her later works, the novella 'Other people's children' (1980), and The children's Bach (1984). True stories (1996), a selection of her non-fiction, includes essays about the Fitzroy Baths, the Royal Melbourne Show, and the Melbourne Morgue, while her full-length non-fiction work, The first stone (1995), concerned a sexual harassment case at the University of Melbourne's Ormond College.
Other books with Melbourne as a setting include Janine Burke's university novel Speaking (1984) and Company of images (1989), set among Melbourne's art world of painters, critics and dealers. Gerald Murnane's Lifetime on clouds (1976), a story about growing up Catholic in 1950s Melbourne, is set in the fictional suburbs of Accrington (Clayton) and Swindon (Malvern), while the story 'The battle of Acosta Nu' from his collection Landscape with landscape (1985) is set in Melbourne, a city in Paraguay that bears a remarkable resemblance to the one in Australia. At the outset of the story the narrator notes: 'I stood on a hill north-east of Melbourne and looked across the folds of suburbs towards the Kinglake Ranges and almost believed I was in Australia after all'. Jack Hibberd's Memoirs of an old bastard (1989) provides an affectionate picture of Melbourne, while its companion Perdita (1992) takes readers on a comic and culinary tour of the city.
The suburb of Carlton, with its floating population of academics and writers, has featured as a backdrop to literary works, such as Laurie Clancy's The collapsible man (1975), Beverley Farmer's Alone (1980), and Jack Hibberd's play 'Memoirs of a Carlton bohemian' (1977). Barry Oakley's Walking through Tiger Land (1977) depicts Richmond, Dorothy Johnston's Tunnel vision (1984) Port Melbourne, and Boyd Oxlade's Death in Brunswick (1987) Brunswick. Barry Dickins' work evokes the Reservoir of his youth in Gift of the gab (1981) and Ron Truffle (1988), while his A Dickins' christmas (1992) is a retelling of Charles Dickens' A Christmas carol with a Melbourne setting.
Luke Davies' Candy (1997) recounts the story of two drug users in Melbourne and their attempts to get off heroin. Bron Nichols' Reasons of the heart (1993), set in Richmond, depicts the gay lifestyle of its characters. The anger and despair of unemployed youth in Melbourne was given expression in Raimondo Cortese's play 'Features of blown youth' (1996), published in Melbourne stories: three plays (2000), along with 'Who's afraid of the working class', a strident critique of the Kennett era. Leonie Steven's Nature strip (1994), Eric Dando's Snail (1996) and Neal Drinnan's Pussy Bow (1999) provide 1990s updates on the inner-city world of communal households first encountered in the work of Helen Garner. Christos Tsiolkas' novel Loaded (1995), set over a 24-hour period in Melbourne's suburbs, depicts the urban lifestyle of sex and drug-taking activities of its central character, the 19-year-old gay Greek boy Ari.
If modern Melbourne is represented by John Brack's famous Collins Street, 5.00 pm painting and Bruce Dawe's reflection in 'The Affair for Melbourne'
. . . the streets with straight seams
like stockings, the skirts of your suburbs
predictable and entrancing,
and cool, cool, your business premises those magnificent pillars
I would have embraced you in broad daylight if it weren't for the typists and stockbrokers,
then post-modern Melbourne is depicted in Howard Arkley's paintings of suburban houses and the savage attack on economic rationalism in Elliot Perlman's Three dollars (1998).
Toward the end of the novel, its central character, Eddy, having been retrenched from his job, sets off on a hallucinatory journey, seeing the streets of Melbourne as if for the first time. Down to his last $3 he stops and surveys all before him, declaring: 'It looked like the place for a village'.