Curious Consistencies: the Shaping of the Literature of Emigration, Colonisation and Settlement

  • Robert D. Grant


The literature of colonial promotion ranged from penny pamphlets to shilling handbooks, limited-edition illustrated volumes to expensive hand-coloured prints. At the cheaper end, publications were often little more than a few pages in length, with paragraphs on each of a colony’s main settlements and a few statistics thrown in for good measure. Frederic Algar was particularly adept at this. His tracts on the British colonies have a modular composition that allowed him to re-use sections across a range of colonial/publishing permutations. Introductory sections from his Handbook to the Colony of South Australia, for example, were split off to provide the introductory sections to his Handbook to the Colony of New South Wales, published the same year. A number of works on Britain’s colonies took the form of surveys of particular colonies, their attention to the purely local no doubt giving them credence, while their apparent comprehensiveness appeared to offer readers a choice between a colony’s different destinations, although they almost always favoured one location over all others. William Fox’s Six Colonies of New Zealand, for example, appeared to offer an overview of the different colonial opportunities of that country but, in fact, plumped quite resolutely for the New Zealand Company’s settlements of Nelson and Wellington. Fox was Company Agent in Nelson from 1843 to 1848, and Principal Agent for the entire Company from 1848 to 1851, so it should perhaps be no surprise that he should be so partisan in his outlook.


Indigenous Population Title Page Content List Settlement Figure Modular Composition 
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© Robert Grant 2005

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  • Robert D. Grant

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