A Larrikin Bibliography

29 Jan

I’ve noticed that quite a lot of people have visited my earlier patchy posts on Australian larrikinism in the late 19thC, so there is obviously an interest in finding out more about the phenomenon. Here, then, is my working bibliography on Australian larrikinism, focusing on the period 1870 (the first year that ‘larrikin’ was used in the press) and the early 1900s.

The most useful accounts in my view are in bold. I am sure I will be adding to it from time to time, and would welcome any suggestions of other sources along the way, especially of relevant PhD theses… I will also include a bibliography of literary accounts of larrikinism in another post sometime soon.

Primary Sources

(This list only includes references to larrikins in published books. There are a huge number of references to larrikins in the daily or other regular newspapers from the period, which are far too plentiful to be listed here. Of these, the Bulletin‘s diatribe, entitled ‘The Larrikin Residuum’ is the one most often quoted in secondary works: Bulletin, 8 January 1881, 1. See also selected cartoons of larrikins from the Bulletin in Patricia Rolfe, The Journalistic Javelin: An Illustrated History of the Bulletin (Sydney 1979)).

Adams, Francis. The Australians: A Social Sketch (London: Fisher & Unwin, 1896).  

Ajax (pseud.), ‘Larrikinism’, Sydney Quarterly Magazine 1.2 (January 1884): 207-15.

Banks, Samuel Hawker, Vice and its Victims in Sydney. The Cause and its Cure (Sydney, 1873).

Clarke, Marcus. A Colonial City: High and Low Life. Selected Journalism of Marcus Clarke, ed. L. T. Hergenhan (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1972).  

Cornish, Henry. Under the Southern Cross (Madras: Higinbotham, 1880).

Denton, Sherman F. Incidents of a Collector’s Rambles in Australia, NZ, and New Guinea (Boston: Lee and Shepard Publishers, 1889) (An American traveller describing an altercation with larrikins at Clunes on the Victorian goldfields).

Freeman, John [pseud.]. Lights and Shadows of Melbourne Life (London: Sampson Low, Martston, Searle, & Rivington, 1888).

Furniss, Harry. Australian Sketches Made on Tour (London: Ward, Lock & Co., n.d.) (includes some sketches of larrikinesses and a brief derogatory discussion of them; ditto of larrikins at Paddy’s Market).

Gould, Nat. Town and Bush: Stray Notes. (London: Routledge, 1896; reprinted in 1974 by Penguin).

Grey, Harry (‘The Moocher’). Scenes in Sydney by Day and Night: A Series of Social Sketches (Parramatta: His Crown Printing Works, n.d.)

James, John Stanley. The Vagabond Papers (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1969). (A reprint of a late 19thC compilation of James’ columns for the Argus, containing commentary on low-life Melbourne).

Inglish, James (‘Maori’). Our Australian Cousins (London: Macmillan, 1880).

McTavish, Sandy. Our Noble Selves: A Study in General Invective (Melbourne, n.d.) (I’ve included this book, written in the 1930s, in the primary sources because McTavish appears to be writing from personal recollection of late-nineteenth century larrikinism. As the title suggests, however, this is essentially a piece of humorous invective rather than a reliable account. McTavish’s chapter, ‘The Politics of the Push’, is basically a comic rant likening the larrikins of the late 19thc to the Australian Labor Party of the early 20thC).

Pratt, Ambrose. ‘”Push” Larrikinism in Australia’, Blackwood’s Magazine CLXX (1901): 27-40 (This is one of the most oft-quoted primary sources on larrikinism, but is by no means the most valuable – it concerns larrikinism after the turn of the 20thC in The Rocks, and is almost entirely bunkum so far as I am concerned. Pratt was a popular novelist: he also wrote a novel called King of the Rocks (1900), featuring a similarly apochryphal larrikin hero).

Twain, Mark. Mark Twain in Australia and NZ, ed. Michael Cannon, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973 [first pub. 1897]

Twopeny, R. M.  Town Life in Australia (London: Stock, 1883).

‘X.O.’. ‘Australian Pushes’. Unpublished letter to the editor of the Bulletin (September 1901). Held in Hayes Collection, Fryer Library, University of Queensland. (Extracts from this letter appear in Connell and Irving’s Class Structure in Australian History, cited in full below).

See also assorted primary sources cited in Morris, below.

Published Secondary Sources

Allen, Judith. Sex and Secrets: Crimes Involving Australian Women Since 1880 (Melbourne: Oxford UP, 1990), chapter II (frighteningly vivid account of the Mt Rennie gang rape and other sex-crimes involving larrikin defendants in 1880s Sydney).

Anderson, Hugh. Larrikin Crook: The Rise and Fall of Squizzy Taylor (Milton: Jacaranda, 1971). (Evocative account of a particular larrikin crim and his milieu in early twentieth century Richmond, Melbourne. Good as a companion piece to McCalman, below).

Baker, Sidney J. ‘Larrikins’ and ‘The Larrikin’s Girl’, in his The Australian Language (Currawong Publishing: Sydney, 1965), pp. 119-25, 128-30.

Bellanta, Melissa. ‘The larrikins’ hop: larrikinism in late-colonial theatre’, Australasian Drama Studies, 52 (April 2008). Download this article from this page if you wish.

Clark, Manning. ‘Larrikins: the context’, in Clem Gordon, ed. The Larrikin Streak: Australian Writers Look at the Legend (Sydney: 1990).

Connell, R.W. and T.H. Irving, Class Structure in Australian History: Poverty and Progress, 2nd ed. (Melbourne: Longman Cheshire, 1992).

Crotty, Martin. Making the Australian Male: Middle-Class Masculinity 1870-1920 (Melbourne: Melbourne UP, 2000). (Like White’s article below, Crotty briefly discusses middle-class accounts of larrikinism as the antithesis of upstanding Australian manliness around the turn of the century).

Davison, Graeme. ‘The city-bred child and urban reform in Melbourne, 1900-1940′, in Peter Williams (ed.), Social Process and the City (Sydney: George Allen and Unwin, 1983), 143-74.

               , The Rise and Fall of Marvellous Melbourne 2nd ed. (Melbourne: Melbourne UP, 2004), 70-4.

Evans, Raymond. ‘Night of broken glass: the anatomy of an anti-Chinese riot’, in his Fighting Words: Writing About Race (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1999), 79-94 (an earlier version of this article also appears in the Brisbane History Group’s Brisbane in 1888 and is summarised in Radical Brisbane).

Finch, Lynette. ‘On the streets: working-class youth culture in 19th-century Sydney’, in Rob White. ed. Australian Youth Subcultures: On the Margins and in the Mainstream (Hobart: Australian ACYS Publishing, 1999) 75-9. (Some of the primary research in this article is drawn from Finch’s longer work, The Classing Gaze).

Finnane, Mark. ‘Larrikins, delinquents and cops: Police and young people in Australian history’, in Rob White and Christine Alder, eds, Police and Young People in Australia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 7-26.

Fisher, Rod. ‘Old Frogs Hollow: den of iniquity, or devoid of interest?’, in Brisbane History Group, Brisbane in 1888 (Brisbane: Brisbane History Group, 1989): 17-46. (Immaculately researched account of larrikinism, prostitution and street crime in inner-urban Brisbane. Read as a companion piece to Raymond Evans’ account of the 1888 anti-Chinese Brisbane riot, in which larrikins were prominently involved).

Garton, Stephen. ‘Pursuing incorrigible rogues: patterns of policing in NSW 1870-1930’, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society. 77.3 (1991): 16-29.

Gleeson, Kate. ‘White natives and gang rape at the time of centenary’ in Scott Poynting and George Morgan, eds. Outrageous! Moral Panics in Australia (Hobart: ACYS Publishing, 2007), 171-80.

Grabowsky, P. Sydney in Ferment: Crime, Dissent and Official Reaction, 1788-1973 (Canberra: ANU Press, 1977), 84-103.

Jaggs, Donella. Neglected and Criminal: Foundations of Child Welfare Legislation in Victoria (Melbourne 1986).

Jamison, Bryan. ‘Larrikin “Push”, 1902’, in Raymond Evans and Carole Ferrier, eds, Radical Brisbane (Melbourne: Vulgar Press, 2004), 123-32.

Johnston, W. Ross, The Long Blue Line: A History of the Queensland Police (Brisbane: Boolarong Publications, 1992).

Kociumbas, Jan. Australian Childhood: A History (Sydney, 1997) 128-9, 142-3.

Lack, John. A History of Footscray (Melbourne: 1991). (On larrikinism in Footscray, Melbourne, during the 1920s).

                      . ‘Working class leisure’. Victorian Historical Journal 49.191 (Feb 1978): 49-65 (another discussion focused on Footscray, with brief references to larrikins).

Larson, Ann. Growing Up in Melbourne: Family Life in the Late 19thC (Canberra 1994) (brilliant work of historical demography, dealing with work, home and school life for Melbourne youth, including a discussion of larrikinism).

McCalman, Janet. Struggletown: Public and Private Life in Richmond, 1900-1965 (Melbourne: Melbourne UP, 1998). (Includes stray references to larrikins in the working-class suburb of Richmond, Melbourne).

McConville, Chris, ‘From criminal class to underworld’, in Graeme Davison, David Dunstan and Chris McConville, eds, The Outcasts of Melbourne: Essays in Social History (Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1985), 69-90.

Maynard, Margaret. Fashioned From Penury: Dress as Cultural Practice in Colonial Australia (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994) (Includes a brief discussion of larrikin dress).

Moore, Bruce. Speaking Our Language: The Story of Australian English (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008). On the etymology of the word larrikin).

Morgan, George. ‘The Bulletin and the larrikin: moral panic in late 19th-century Sydney’, Media International Australia 85 (November 1997): 17-23. (Standard cultural studies piece on larrikinism and moral panic: see Kate Gleeson’s more recent chapter for another example).

Morris, E. Austral English: A Dictionary of Australasian Words, Phrases and Usages (London: Macmillan, 1898), 259-63 (Traces the emergence of the word ‘larrikin’, with suggestive quotes from primary sources).

Murray, James. Larrikins: 19th Century Outrage (Melbourne: Lansdowne Press, 1973) (This popular history of larrikinism is obviously based on great research, but is annoyingly free of footnotes for those wanting to follow it up with their own).

Pawsey, Margaret. ‘Annie Wilkins: Life on the margins in 19thC Collingwood’. Victorian Historical Journal 66.1 (June 1995): 1-19 (close study of Collingwood sisters who were involved in the larrikin milieu).

Pearson, Geoffrey. Hooligan: A History of Respectable Fears (London: Macmillan, 1983) (On English hooligans, but includes references to the fact that they were sometimes called larrikins in the late 1890s).

Petrow, Stefan. ‘Arabs, boys and larrikins: juvenile delinquents and their treatment in Hobart, 1860-1896’. Australian Journal of Legal History 2 (1996): 37-59.

Phillips, David. ‘Anatomy of a rape case 1888: sex, race, violence and criminal law in Victoria’, in David Phillips and Susan Davies, eds, A Nation of Rogues? Crime, Law and Punishment in Colonial Australia (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press 1994). (This chapter only touches on larrikinism: it mentions the notorious gang rape of a 16 year old girl at Mt Rennie, near Woolloomooloo in Sydney, in 1886 – 4 of the reputed 20-plus larrikins involved were executed in January 1887).

Priestley, Susan. ‘Larrikins and the law, 1849-1874′, Victorian Historical Journal 74. 2 (2003).

Ramsland, John. Children of the Back Lanes: Destitute and Neglected Children in Colonial NSW (Sydney: UNSW Press, 1986).

                               . With Just But Relentless Discipline: A Social History of the Corrective Services in NSW (Kenthurst: Kangaroo Press, 1996), 53-67.

Rickard, John, ‘Lovable larrikins and awful ockers’, Journal of Australian Studies 56 (1998): 78-85. (A discussion of literary accounts of larrikinism, and how they have changed over time).

Schoff, Paul. ‘The hunting of the larrikin: law, larrikinism, and the flight of respectability in nineteenth-century South Australia’. Australian Journal of Legal History 1 (1995): 93-107.

Smith, Kylie. ‘Larrikins, labour and the law in Sydney from 1870-1900’, in Greg Patmore et al, eds, The Past is Before Us: Proceedings of the 9th National Labour History Conference (Sydney: Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, 2005), 451058 (NB this is an unrefereed paper).

Stratton, Jon. The Young Ones: Working-Class Culture, Consumption and the Category of Youth (Perth: Black Swan Press, 1992). (This doesn’t introduce any new evidence of larrikinism – it relies entirely on John Murray’s Larrikinism, and is chiefly concerned with the bodgies and widgies of the mid-20thC as a latter-day version of larrikinism. However, it provides a good discussion of sociological/cultural studies perspectives on the topic).

Van Krieken, Robert. Children and the State: Social Control and the Formation of Australian Child Welfare (Nth Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1992).

Walker, David, ‘Youth on trial: the Mt Rennie case’, Labour History 50 (May 1986): 28-41.

White, Cameron, ‘Promenading and picknicking: the performance of middle-class masculinity in 19th-century Sydney’, Journal of Australian Studies 89 (2006): 27-40. (This article is chiefly concerned with middle-class men on Sydney’s foreshores, but White also talks about larrikins as the antithesis of upstanding manliness and includes excellent references to their rowdy harbourside antics).

Williamson, Noelene. ‘”Hymns, songs and blackguard verses’: life in the Industrial and Reformatory School for Girls in NSW, Part 1, 1867 to 1887′. Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society 67.4 (1982): 375-87.

                                  . ‘Laundry maids or ladies? Life in the Industrial and Reformatory School for Girls in NSW, Part II, 1887 to 1910’. Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society 68.4  (1983): 312-24 (both these articles give glimpses into the lives of girls sent to reformatories, some for hanging out with male larrikins).

Unpublished Secondary Sources

Jamison, Bryan. ‘A Great Social Force Making For Order and Morality”: An Analysis of Institutions for Rational Recreation in Late Victorian and Edwardian Brisbane’, PhD Thesis, University of Queensland, 2002. (This thesis looks at moralistic attempts to reform larrikins and other working-class Brisbaneites. Jamison drew on his research for this thesis to write the chapter on Brisbane larrikins in Radical Brisbane, above).

Johnson, Murray. ‘Leaning Against the Lamp-Post: A History of Larrikinism in Queensland’, BA Hons Thesis, History Department, University of Queensland, 1998.

McConville, Chris. ‘Outcast Melbourne: Social Deviance in the City, 1880-1914′. MA Thesis, University of Melbourne, 1974.

McLachlan, N. D. ‘Larrikinism: An Interpretation’. MA Thesis, University of Melbourne, 1950.

Smith, Kylie. ‘The Larrikin Subject: Hegemony and Subjectivity in Late Nineteenth-Century Sydney’, PhD Thesis, University of Wollongong, 2008.

Sleight, Simon. ‘The Territories of Youth: Young People and Public Space in Melbourne, c. 1870-1901′. PhD Thesis, Monash University, 2008.

Waters, Edgar. ‘Some Aspects of the Popular Arts in Australia, 1880-1915′ (PhD Thesis, Australian National University, Canberra, 1962) 189-237. (This thesis includes a chapter on larrikins in literature and popular theatre around the turn of the century).

11 Responses to “A Larrikin Bibliography”

  1. Perry Middlemiss 30 January 2009 at 11:52 am #

    Can I add the following. I realise they are newspaper references but each are interesting for their own reasons. One dates from 1870 (as you state is the earliest reference), one is a poem about larrikins, and the other is an iterview with a self-styled larrikin from 1887,

    “The Larrikin Gang” – THE WEST AUSTRALIAN, 29 Jan 1892, http://ndpbeta.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/3031066/756629?zoomLevel=3

    “Bank-Note Forgeries at Benalla” – THE BRISBANE COURIER, 24 August 1870, http://ndpbeta.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/1327010?searchTerm=larrikin

    “What a Larikin Himself Thinks” – THE BRISBANE COURIER, 26 May 1887, http://ndpbeta.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/3470436

    • Melissa Bellanta 31 January 2009 at 10:12 am #

      Thanks, Perry. ‘What a Larrikin Himself Thinks’ is a goodie – do you think it’s really a genuine interview with a larrikin?

      Maybe we should compile a separate bibliography of stand-out press articles… would be a rather daunting undertaking, though…

      • Michael Lever 3 February 2013 at 3:37 pm #

        “What a Larrikin Himself Thinks” rings bells as having been printed in Melbourne media too. It does read like a moralising piece of ventriloquism, with our notional Larrikin the dummy. It smacks of a blancmange of Spencer and the Salvation Army – and very little of the street!
        NB – oops, only just noticed the dates for the original posts of this topic.

      • Melissa Bellanta 4 February 2013 at 5:54 am #

        I definitely agree, Michael

  2. Perry Middlemiss 1 February 2009 at 11:05 pm #

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Larrikin interview is a bit of a set-up, but at this distance we have to take it at face value with nothing else to go on.

    While I wouldn’t like to undertake a full and complete search on newspaper/magazine articles regarding Larrikins, having a place to put them when they are found is a good idea.

    Here’s one about C.J. Dennis:

    Austlit and the National Library’s newspaper digitisation project are obvious sources of material.

  3. Lefty E 15 February 2009 at 2:09 pm #

    Well, how about this rave review from ‘Australian Magazine'(Anon. August 1886:187):
    “[The larrikin] has treated his mother with disregard, and his father with defiance. Therefore it follows that he is dangerous to the community; he is a human wild beast, rather than a thinking creature possessed of the nobility of manhood… He is one of the direct outcomes of the eight-hours system…The so-much-coveted leisure, then, has not been well-employed.”

    I found that lying about in … some tatty old thesis.

    Oh, and ‘wow’ again … the names. Hope your visit goes well.

    • Melissa Bellanta 22 February 2009 at 1:06 am #

      One of the direct outcomes of the eight hours system! So that’s what industrial regulation breeds.

      What was the rest of your thesis about, then? And does that article had a title? I want to put it into the biblio.

      Visit went v. well, thankyou – as well as the nice little bit of synchronicity with which it began. – M

  4. Lefty E 22 February 2009 at 2:58 am #

    Glad to hear it, M, and here’s the reference for your biblio. It’s interesting for the no-holds barred anti-worker hate speech! And uses the “L-word” too.

    Anon. 1886. ‘The Australian Working Man’, Australian Magazine, August: 180-196.

    I’m looking forward to the update on your latest post. I too am in equal parts outraged and intrigued!

    As for the thesis – I’ll email you about that whenever I get time away from course guides, with some other stuff you might find interesting.

    • Melissa Bellanta 23 February 2009 at 6:47 am #

      Would love to see the thesis and whatever other goodies are on offer. Will follow up that reference – meanwhile I’ve put it in the biblio. Ta – M

  5. David O'Brien 26 September 2009 at 3:39 am #

    Your work is incredibly comprehensive. I’m looking at the possibility of a movie script on the Mount Rennie Outrage and larrikin culture in Sydney of the 1880s/90s. While I want it to be as authentic to the times as possible, it will be truth and fiction. How can I read your thesis and is there any chance we can talk at some time in the near future? I can send you my industry CV.
    cheers and thanks
    David O’Brien

  6. Melissa Bellanta 30 September 2009 at 1:32 am #

    Dear David

    Well that sounds very interesting indeed. I’m in Sydney now until 14 October. I’m assuming that you’re a Sydneysider – if so, we can meet up if you like. The best way to contact me is by email: m.bellanta@uq.edu.au.


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