State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 64 Spring 1999


A Checklist of Reed & Harris Publications


Charles Barrett The Bunyip and Other Mythical Monsters and Legends 1946 (120pp)

Barrett (1879-1959), born in Hawthorn, Victoria, was a prolific author and editor, who published over 60 books, predominantly on the natural history of Australia. He was a member of the literary staff of the Herald for 33 years, contributing regular columns such as ‘Wild Nature Notes’. Barrett co-edited The Emu from 1910-1916, and was editor of The Victorian Naturalist from 1925-1939 and Pals: The Australian Newspaper for the Australian Boy from 1920-1926. His most popular publications were the Sun Nature Books and Sun Travel Books; print runs of some titles in the series exceeded 100,000 copies. A letter from John Reed to Max Harris, dated 31 May 1944, indicates that Barrett originally suggested two books to Reed & Harris; one on banksias and other unusual trees, the other on bunyips. The publishers decided on the bunyip book and Reed's letter to Harris, dated 24 January 1945, suggests a printing of 3,000-5,000 copies. Barrett's book, while popular in intent, remains a standard work on the subject.

Arthur Calwell How Many Australians Tomorrow? 1945 (66pp)

Calwell (1896-1973) was Federal Minister for Information and Immigration at the time that this, his first book, was published; it had, however, been written prior to his taking over the portfolio, and presented his personal opinions rather than government policy. In it, he argues the case for a significant increase in Australia's population as a deterrent against any future invasion. While clearly a direct response to Australia's experience of the Second World War, many of the key tenets expressed in the book underpinned Australia's immediate post-war immigration policies. John Reed's letter to Max Harris, dated 15 February 1945, suggests that Dal Stivens was involved in the writing of the book.

Peter Cowan Drift 1944 (208pp)

Cowan (1914-) was born and has lived all his life in Perth, where he worked for many years as a senior tutor with the English Department of the University of Western Australia, and co-edited the University literary magazine Westerly. The 1992 winner of the Patrick White Award, he was recently honoured by the establishment of the Peter Cowan Writers’ Centre at Edith Cowan University (named after his grandmother,

Front cover of Peter Cowan's Drift. La Trobe Rare Books Collection, MC 819.93 C8386D.

who was the first woman member of an Australian parliament). He was a contributor to Angry Penguins, and has written about his experience of that period in a novel, The Hills of Apollo Bay (1989). Drift, which features a dustjacket illustration by Albert Tucker, was Cowan's first collection of short stories. A letter from John Reed to Max Harris, dated 30 January 1945, indicates that the book was published in an edition of 3,000 copies. Cowan has subsequently published six further collections of stories, five novels, and several biographies, as well as editing a number of collections of short fiction.

Geoffrey Dutton Night Flight and Sunrise 1944 (40pp)

Dutton (1922-1998) was born at Kapunda, South Australia, and educated at the University of Adelaide. Night Flight and Sunrise, his first book of verse, included poems previously published in Angry Penguins and Comment. The title poem, in particular, drew on his experiences in the Raaf as a flying instructor during the Second World War, as did the poem ‘For Donald Kerr’, about fellow poet and cofounder of Angry Penguins who was killed during air operations over New Guinea in 1942. Max Harris's foreword to the volume compares Dutton's work to the best of Donald Kerr and Ern Malley, predicting that ‘Geoffrey Dutton will be a powerful force in contemporary Australian literature’, A letter from John Reed to Max Harris, dated 31 March 1944, indicates that Dutton's book, printed by the Hassell Press in Adelaide, was published in an edition of 300 copies. The book's dustjacket features a drawing by Sidney Nolan.

Reg S. Ellery Eyes Left! The Soviet Union and the Post-War World 1943 (64pp)

Ellery (1897-1955) was born in Adelaide and educated there at St Peter's College. He graduated in medicine from the University of Melbourne shortly after the First World War and thereafter joined the Victorian Lunacy Department, serving as a medical officer at Kew, Sunbury and Mont Park. From 1931 until his death in 1955 he practised privately in Melbourne. His first-hand experience of communism, gained from a visit to the Soviet Union in 1937, was to inform a number of his subsequent writings. In The Cow Jumped Over the Moon, the autobiography published in 1956, the year after his death, Ellery stated that Eyes Left! ‘was a personal testament of one who then believed that communism was the key to a better world’. A letter from John Reed to the Sydney booksellers Swain & Co., dated 10 October 1943, states that the first printing of 10,000 copies of Ellery's book sold out within a few weeks, and that Reed & Harris had produced a second printing of 20,000 copies. Ellery's other books included Schizophrenia (1941) and Health in the Soviet Union (1942), and he was a regular contributor to the Medical Journal of Australia.

Reg S. Ellery Psychiatric Aspects of War 1945 (191pp)

Psychiatric Aspects of War, coming as it did at the end of the war, was a forthright attack on what Ellery perceived as the lunacy of war. While it received an enthusiastic
editorial in The Psychiatric Quarterly, its leftist tendencies attracted a number of local critics. Ellery believed its publication lay behind his not being re-appointed to the position of Honorary Psychiatrist to the Alfred Hospital, a position he had held for 15 years previously. The book was illustrated with selected images from Goya's Disasters of the War series, and carried a dustjacket illustration by Sidney Nolan. Aside from the two books by Ellery that Reed & Harris published, they also acted as agents and distributors for the 1944 reprint of his Schizophrenia: The Cinderella of Psychiatry, first published by the Australasian Medical Publishing Company in 1941.

Max Harris The Vegetative Eye 1943 (132pp)

Harris (1921-1995) was the founder, owner, and co-editor of Angry Penguins. His first and only published novel, The Vegetative Eye, took its title from the writings of William Blake, and was clearly influenced by his passion for the work of European literary figures such as Baudelaire, Rilke, and the Surrealists. Its publication was generally greeted with incomprehension and ridicule by local reviewers, but in Angry Penguins, 1944 Autumn Number, four pages were devoted to reviews of the book by Geoffrey Dutton, Erik Schwimmer and Sidney Nolan. The dustjacket of the novel features a chalk drawing by Sidney Nolan. John Reed's correspondence indicates the book was published in an edition of 1,500 copies.

Title Page of Max Harris's The Vegetative Eye. La Trobe Rare Books Collection, * LT 819.93 H242V.

This illustration is unavailable for copyright reasons.

Unknown Photographer. Portrait of Alister Kershaw reproduced in Excellent Stranger. La Trobe Rare Books Collection, *LT 819.91 K47.

Alister Kershaw Excellent Stranger 1944 (21pp)

Kershaw (1921-1995) was a regular contributor of poetry to both Angry Penguins and Comment. His early work commanded enormous respect from his peers; the publication of his poem ‘Lands in Force’ in the second issue of Angry Penguins (1941) generated a three-page critical response by Melbourne critic Michael Keon in Comment, no. 8, November 1941. Excellent Stranger, which featured an illustration by Albert Tucker on the dustjacket, was Kershaw's second book of poetry, following his 1943 publication The Lonely Verge. A letter from John Reed to Max Harris, dated 8 March 1944, indicates that the book, printed by the Hassell Press in Adelaide, was published in an edition of 200 copies. Kershaw subsequently left Australia in 1947 to live in Europe. In Hey Days (1991), he gives a personal account of bohemian life in Melbourne in the 1940s. His Collected Poems were published in 1992.

Ern Malley The Darkening Ecliptic 1944 (45pp)

‘Ern Malley (1918-1943)’ was the invention of poets James McAuley and Harold Stewart. The 16 poems that made up his ‘life-work’ were first published in the Ern Malley Commemorative Issue of Angry Penguins of May 1944. Reed & Harris's
publication of The Darkening Ecliptic, which post-dated the exposure of the hoax, reproduced, without editorial comment, all the relevant documents from Angry Penguins. It also included a facsimile of Ethel Malley's letter to the editor of Angry Penguins that had originally accompanied the Malley poems. While most copies of the Reed & Harris edition of The Darkening Ecliptic were issued in plain wrappers, there also exists a variant issue featuring a colour reproduction of the Sidney Nolan painting of ‘The sole Arabian tree’ (which was used for the cover of the Angry Penguins issue). A letter from John Reed to Max Harris, dated 12 October 1944, refers to the 400 copies with colour covers as being destined for overseas use: ‘I thought it would be as well not to release these at all to the shops in Australia as it would only create confusion in selling and we should be able to dispose of them all in England and America’. The book was republished in 1961, and again, with illustrations by Sidney Nolan, in 1974. A further edition of the poems, with new commentaries by Max Harris and Joanna Murray-Smith, was published in 1988. Michael Heyward's The Ern Malley Affair (1993) provides a detailed account of the incident.

Henry Miller Murder the Murderer: An Excursus on War from ‘The Air-Conditioned Nightmare’ 1946 (86pp)

The novels of American writer Henry Miller (1891-1980) were banned in England, the United States and Australia, at the time that his essay, ‘Obscenity and the Law of Reflection’, was published in the first issue of Angry Penguins Broadsheet in 1946. The essay marked Miller's first appearance in print in this country, to be followed the same year by the Reed & Harris publication of Murder the Murderer, advertised in the fourth issue of the Broadsheet as ‘the first book by Miller to be published and to become generally available in Australia’. The pamphlet, first published in the United States in 1944, is described by the publishers as ‘a brilliant, angry exposition of Miller's attitude towards war and towards future wars’.

Front cover of Henry Miller's Murder the Murderer. La Trobe Rare Books Collection, *LT 819.93 AU785 v. 14.


Cynthia Reed Lucky Alphonse 1944 (232pp)

Cynthia Reed (1913-1976), a sister of John Reed, was born in Tasmania. She published Lucky Alphonse, and a subsequent novel, Daddy Sowed a Wind (1947), under her own name prior to her marriage to Sidney Nolan in 1948. Her subsequent work, published under her married name, Cynthia Nolan, included a further novel, A Bride for St Thomas (1970), and a number of travel books. A sympathetic account of her later years, and her death by suicide in 1976, appeared in Patrick White's autobiographical Flaws in the Glass (1981). A John Reed letter to Elizabeth Lambert, dated 3 July 1944, indicates that Lucky Alphonse was published in an edition of 3,000 copies.

Roy Rene Mo's Memoirs 1945 (200pp)

Roy Rene (1891-1954) was the stage name taken by Henry Van der Sluys, also known as Harry Sluice, who was born in Adelaide. In 1916 he formed the comedy partnership of Stiffy and Mo with Nat Phillips. Famous for his made-up chalk-white face and black beard, and his use of colloquialisms such as ‘Strike me lucky’, the character of Mo remained popular on the Australian stage long after the original partnership with Phillips disbanded in the late 1920s. Rene's memoirs were ghosted by Max Harris and Elizabeth Lambert.

Harry Roskolenko A Second Summary 1944 (47pp)

Roskolenko (1907-1980), born in New York, visited Australia several times during the Second World War as a member of the US armed forces. With two books of poetry already published in the US, he actively immersed himself in the local literary scene, contributing poems to Angry Penguins, Meanjin and Comment magazines, many of which appeared in A Second Summary. In 1944 he co-edited, with Elizabeth Lambert, an Australian issue of the American poetry magazine Voices, and subsequently acted as New York agent for Reed & Harris publications. In the role of US editor and representative for Angry Penguins, Roskolenko was responsible for contributions to the magazines by established American poets such as Kenneth Rexroth and Harold Rosenberg. In 1946 he co-edited, with Max Harris, the ‘Jazz: Australia’ tenth and final issue of Angry Penguins Broadsheet, and the following year Meanjin Press in Melbourne published his Notes From a Journey, illustrated by Sidney Nolan, who also illustrated the dustjacket of A Second Summary. A letter from John Reed to Max Harris, dated 8 March 1944, indicates that the book, printed by the Hassell Press, was to be published in an edition of 250 copies. Roskolenko revisited Australia in 1969, and in 1970 a further volume of his poetry, American Civilization, with illustrations by Albert Tucker, John Olsen and Clifton Pugh, was published in Melbourne.

Dal Stivens The Courtship of Uncle Henry 1946 (199pp)

Stivens (1911-1997) was born in Blayney, NSW. He published his first collection The Tramp and Other Stories in 1936. The Courtship of Uncle Henry, his second published book, included a number of stories previously published in literary magazines, such

Unknown photographer. Portrait of Harry Roskolenko reproduced in A Second Summary. La Trobe Collection SLT 811.5R735.

as Angry Penguins, Meanjin, Southerly, Man and the Sydney Bulletin. The dustjacket to the book featured a drawing by Vic O'Connor. A letter from John Reed to Max Harris, dated 30 January 1945, indicates that the book was published in an edition of 2,500 copies. Stivens's introductory comments note that ‘many good stories are in danger of being lost because we are becoming one of the world's most urbanised countries’. His stated intention in the stories was to draw on a genuine Australian folklore, making use of incidents heard from his father and other rural old-timers, and even suggesting to readers that they send him any good stories they might know. Tom Harrisson, who provided an introduction to the collection, places Stivens's work firmly within the short story renaissance that had its origins in James Joyce's Dubliners and the stories of Katherine Mansfield. Stivens has since published six other volumes of short stories and four novels. He won the Miles Franklin Award in 1970 for A Horse of Air and the Patrick White Award in 1981.

Bruce Williams The Socialist Order and Freedom 1943 (72 pp)

Williams (1919-) was born at Warragul, Victoria, and graduated from the University of Melbourne. Knighted in 1980, he has had a distinguished career in tertiary education, being Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney 1967-1981, and chair of a Federal Government inquiry into tertiary eduction in the late seventies. He delivered the 1982 series of Boyer lectures, and has published numerous research and policy papers, predominantly in the fields of economics and education. Williams was lecturer in economics at the University of Adelaide between 1940-1945, at the time when The Socialist Order and Freedom was published. He describes the book, which carried an introduction by Professor Keith Isles, as an attempt ‘to give to the general reader a simple and introductory account of the conditions which need to be fulfilled if society is to be reconstructed in a democratic manner’. A letter from John Reed to Max Harris, dated 28 July 1943, refers to Sidney Nolan as having been responsible for the book's layout and cover design. The book was originally to be produced by the Hassell Press in Adelaide in an edition of 1,000 copies, 500 on heavy art paper and the remainder on heavy offset paper; however, a letter from Max Harris to John Reed, dated 16 November 1943, states that 1,100 were printed.

Valentin Zeglovsky Ballet Crusade 1943 (143pp)

Zeglovsky was a Ukrainian Russian dancer who toured Australia with the De Basil Company in 1938 and subsequently made the decision to settle here. Ballet Crusade is an account of the key events in Zeglovsky's life: his childhood in Kharkov in the Ukraine, where he was born in 1908, the Russian Revolution, his apprenticeship in Riga with the State Opera House and Ballet School, his tours with the De Basil Company, and his decision to live and work in Melbourne. First published in December 1943, it was reprinted in slightly different form by Reed & Harris in September 1944 and again in November 1944. John Reed's correspondence indicates that Reed & Harris wanted to print 5,000 copies of the book; however, a Reed letter, dated 12 November 1943, states that paper shortages at the Advertiser in Adelaide limited the printing of the first edition to 1,500 copies.


Angry Penguins nos 5-9, September 1943-July 1946

Founded in Adelaide in 1940 by Max Harris, the first issues of the journal were published in Adelaide by the Adelaide University Arts Association. The previous year, both Max Harris and Donald Kerr had contributed to the 1939 issue of the literary magazine Phoenix, published by the Adelaide University Union. The first issue of Angry Penguins carried the note: ‘Last year Phoenix went, and thus was happily consummated a failure to understand which had started with the first number’. Kerr was co-editor with Harris of the first issue of Angry Penguins; the second and third issues were edited solely by Harris. In the fourth issue John Reed was named as collaborating editor, art section; and from the fifth issue (September 1943) he was co-editor with Max Harris, and the journal was published by Reed & Harris.

Angry Penguins Broadsheet nos 1-10, [Jan]-Dec 1946

The advertisement announcing publication of the Broadsheet in the 1945 issue of Angry Penguins states that: ‘Because of the irregular appearance of Angry Penguins it has been decided to produce a Broadsheet which will fill the gap of those months when ANGRY PENGUINS does not appear’. The Broadsheet was intended to be more immediate and polemical in style than Angry Penguins. The stated aims of editors Max Harris and James McGuire for the Broadsheet were to ‘attack bad art on the one hand and to attack those debased values in the community which demand and perpetuate bad art’. The magazine, which ran to approximately 16 pages per issue, also aimed ‘to improve taste and judgement in the realm of “popular art”, such the cinema, jazz, or journalism’. From the second issue onwards, Sidney Nolan is listed as the third editor. The final issue, the special ‘Jazz: Australia’ issue, edited by Harris and Harry Roskolenko, carried an announcement of the closure of the publishing firm of Reed & Harris: ‘This firm was founded for the express purpose of providing a channel of expression for the creative artist in Australia, but after nearly 4 years of work and the publication of 14 books, in addition to “Angry Penguins” and the “Broadsheet”, it has now reached the end of its resources’.

Publications advertised but not published

Brian Elliott The Effluence of Leontine

Advertised in the December 1944 issue of Angry Penguins. Described as: ‘A first novel, or rather novelette, by the Lecturer in Australian Literature at the University of Adelaide, dealing with the escapist life of a semi-intellectual, semi-bohemian Australian who returns to his South Australian seaside bungalow after a too violent personal experience in Europe’. (Elliott's only published novel is Leviathan's Inch, issued by Angus and Robertson in 1946.)

Max Harris Amo Amas Amat

Advertised in the 1945 edition of Angry Penguins: ‘Max Harris has written one novel, “The Vegetative Eye” since the appearance of his last book of verse over three years ago. This new book of verse gives a telling picture of his poetic output over this period’.

Max Harris Australia's Modern Romantic Painters

Advertised in the 1945 issue of Angry Penguins: ‘This book provides the first critical evaluation of the modern romantic painters of this country, and attempts to place their work sympathetically before a public swamped with slick or academic modernism from superficial critics’.

Leslie Haylen New Guinea Newsreel

Advertised in the 1945 issue of Angry Penguins: ‘Mr. Leslie Haylen is an up-and-coming member of Federal House who has done special work on the problems of New Guinea. His narrative of his experiences while on this job is written in such a racy and down-to-earth strain that it should appeal to everybody, and rapidly become a best-seller’. Although the Oxford Companion to Australian Literature (2nd edition, 1994) lists the book amongst Haylen's publications, it appears not to have been published.

Frank Sargeson When the Wind Blows

Advertised in the 1945 issue of Angry Penguins as a first novel being ‘handled, in its Australian edition, by Reed & Harris’. The sole edition published was a Christchurch, New Zealand, edition of 1945.

Greville Texidor These Dark Glasses

Advertised in the 1945 issue of Angry Penguins. Texidor's short novel was subsequently published in 1949 by the Caxton Press, New Zealand. It was republished in 1987 in the volume, In Fifteen Minutes You Can Say a Lot: Selected Fiction, issued by Wellington University Press. A letter from John Reed to Max Harris, dated 2 October 1944, indicated Reed & Harris also considered publishing a book of Texidor's translations of the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca; however, it was decided that potential sales couldn't justify a book, and a selection was subsequently included in the December 1944 issue of Angry Penguins.

Tomorrow Looks to the Future: Critical Constructive Articles and News Items Written by World Authorities

Advertised in the 1945 issue of Angry Penguins: ‘Something New in Journalism: a non-party monthly review of Australian and world progress compiled by leading
journalists and artists’. It was subsequently published as Tomorrow: The Outspoken Monthly but ran for only ten issues from March 1946 to December 1946. It contained a wide selection of left-wing journalism by Australian journalists, much of it pseudonymous, and included writers connected with Reed & Harris such as Reg Ellery, John Sinclair, Harry Roskolenko and Max Harris. The magazine sold for sixpence; and a facsimile letter from Gordon and Gotch, reproduced in the second issue, provided evidence that they had distributed 30,000 copies of the first issue. Although financially sponsored by John Reed, neither Reed nor the firm Reed & Harris were listed as editor or publisher of the magazine; the publisher of Tomorrow was registered as Tomorrow Publications.

Reed & Harris Agencies

The 1944 issue of Angry Penguins announced the December opening of a New York office of Reed & Harris with Harry Roskolenko acting as New York agent. The same issue announced that Elizabeth Lambert had been acting ‘for the last few months’ as Reed & Harris's Sydney representative.
The December 1944 issue of Angry Penguins announced that Reed & Harris was ‘handling the Australian agencies of the following literary journals’: New Directions (including books), Geo. Wittenborn & Coy (specialist art publications), The Wind and the Rain (UK quarterly) and Interim (US quarterly).
The 1945 issue of Angry Penguins advertised Reg S. Ellery's Schizophrenia: The Cinderella of Psychiatry (1944, originally published 1941) as being re-issued by the Australian Medical Publishing Co. Ltd through the agency of Reed & Harris. A statement to that effect was included on the title page of the 1944 issue.
The 1945 issue of Angry Penguins listed Reed & Harris as agencies for Caxton Press publications, listing 12 current titles, as well as the periodicals Circle (Berkeley, US), Counterpoint (Oxford, UK), and Briarcliff Quarterly (Maryland, US).
[All references to John Reed correspondence are from the John and Sunday Reed papers, La Trobe Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library of Victoria, MS13186.]
Des Cowley