In 19th- and early-20th-century Australia, newspapers were the main source of fiction for readers and the major publishers of fiction by local authors.

Until recently we have known very little about the fiction published in this context, due to the size of the newspaper archive and the ephemeral nature of these publications. Mass-digitisation of Australian historical newspapers by the National Library of Australia’s Trove database changes that situation profoundly, making it possible for the first time to explore Australian newspaper fiction in a reliable, extensive and systematic way.

By analysing the mass-digitised newspaper archive this project has uncovered over 21,000 works of fiction, greatly expanding the record of early Australian literature and literature in Australia. New Australia titles and authors have been discovered, as well as thousands of stories from elsewhere: particularly Britain and America as well as Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, Sweden and beyond.

This vast new collection of fiction enables important new insights into the development of Australian literary, publishing and reading culture, including what early Australians were reading, where it came from, and how it was published and understood. To access academic publications on this project see here.

Find out more about how the fiction was identified and harvested for this project here.