‘An exciting tale about writers wielding tatty but brilliant manuscripts, editors with sharp blue pencils, and ragtag publishers with outsized ambitions.’
‘Personal, funny, moving, and informative – an exhilarating ride down the highways and byways of book history.’
‘Here are the unsung minds of our remarkable book culture.’
'Writers, their friends, enemies, editors, and publishers began to materialise out of the library's archive boxes, and I found myself setting off in search of these elusive, eccentric, and often quarrelsome characters.'
With his unique and entertaining blend of memoir, biography, and literary detective work, Craig Munro recreates the lives and careers of a group of renowned Australian editors and their authors in a narrative spanning from the 1890s to the 1990s.
Among those encountered on the journey are A.G. Stephens, who helped turn foundry worker Joseph Furphy's thousand page handwritten manuscript into the enduring classic Such Is Life; P.R. Stephensen, who tangled with an irascible Xavier Herbert to tame his unwieldy masterpiece Capricornia; Beatrice Davis, whose literary soirees were the talk of Sydney, and who insisted Herbert cut his controversial novel Soldiers' Women in half; and award-winning fiction editor Rosanne Fitzgibbon, who championed the work of many authors including the prodigiously talented Gillian Mears.
Throughout it all, in beguiling and elegant style, Craig Munro weaves his own reminiscences of a life in publishing while tracking down some of Australian literature's most fascinating stories. Literary Lion Tamers is a delight for anyone interested in the world of books and those who create them.
Craig Munro is an award-winning biographer and the founding chair of the Queensland Writers Centre. As the inaugural fiction editor at the University of Queensland Press, and later as publishing manager, he worked with many emerging writers who have since become celebrated authors. Craig won the Barbara Ramsden Award for editing in 1985, and studied book publishing in Canada and the United States on a Churchill Fellowship in 1991. His previous books include Paper Empires: a history of the book in Australia, 1946–2005 (co-edited with Robyn Sheahan-Bright) and Under Cover: adventures in the art of editing.
In 2010 I drove from Brisbane up the steep eastern slope of the Great Dividing Range to Toowoomba. This regional centre had once been A.G. Stephens’ boyhood town and it was where he’d begun his printing apprenticeship.
James Joyce was not the only notorious writer to come knocking on the door of Inky Stephensen's publishing office at the Mandrake Press. Aleister Crowley – the ‘wickedest man in the world’– turned up one afternoon followed by an acolyte carrying a stack of unpublished typescripts.
No one exemplified the famous publishing firm of Angus & Robertson more than editor Beatrice Davis who ended her career there in 1973 just as I was beginning mine at the University of Queensland Press. Seven years later I travelled down to Sydney to meet this legendary book editor.