Barbara Janet Ainsleigh Baynton, Lady Headley (4 June 1857 – 28 May 1929)
Featured Image: Barbara Baynton . 1892
Australian writer, made famous by Bush Studies.
Not many Gundy-born natives have made it into English Aristocracy. Barbara Baynton was an exception; and exceptional. Her imagination and inventiveness may have been fueled by the ambience of her early life in Gundy. I’m thinking of the Hunter River; and the ‘Linga Longa Inn’. It’s a potent mix. The result was an outstanding Australian author who excelled in her chosen field. Like many others before her pathway to ultimate success was littered with dangerous potholes; and worse. She overcame them all.
Barbara Baynton was born in 1857 at Gundy, Scone, Hunter River District, New South Wales the daughter of Irish bounty immigrants John Lawrence and Elizabeth Ewart, although she claimed to be born in 1862 to Penelope Ewart and Captain Robert Kilpatrick, of the Bengal Light Cavalry. This fiction gave her “entrée to polite circles as a governess” and, in 1880, she married Alexander Frater, the son of her employers. They soon moved to the Coonamble district, and had two sons and a daughter. However, Alexander Frater ran off with her niece, Sarah Glover, in 1887, and Barbara moved to Sydney and commenced divorce proceedings. A decree absolute was granted 4 March 1890.
On 5 March 1890 she married Dr Thomas Baynton, a retired surgeon aged 70 years who had literary friends. A few years later she began contributing short stories to the Bulletin. Six of these were published in 1902 in London by Gerald Duckworth and Company Ltd under the title of Bush Studies because Mrs Baynton had been unable to find a publisher for them in Sydney. Alfred Stephens, a close friend, reviewed the book in the Bulletin and stated: ‘So precise, so complete, with such insight into detail and such force of statement, it ranks with the masterpieces of realism in any language. Percival Serle, however, found that The building up of detail, however, is at times overdone, and lacking humorous relief, the stories tend to give a distorted view of life in the back-blocks.
Baynton’s husband died on 10 June 1904 and left his entire estate to her. She invested in the stock market, bought and sold antiques, and collected black opals from Lightning Ridge. In 1907, her only novel, Human Toll, was published, and in 1917 Cobbers, a reprint of Bush Studies with two additional stories, appeared. During World War I Mrs Baynton was living in England and in 1921 she married her third husband Baron Headley.
Barbara Baynton died at Melbourne on 28 May 1929. She was survived by Lord Headley, and her two sons and daughter by the first marriage.
A review of Barbara Baynton, Between Two Worlds (1989) by the well-known Australian actor Penne Hackforth-Jones (1949-2013) who was Baynton’s great (or great great) granddaughter.
Barbara Baynton was an Australian author of the same period as Henry Lawson, that is of the Bush Realism school of the 1890s fostered by the Sydney Bulletin. There were many women writers at this time but the most popular of them, Ada Cambridge, Tasma and Rosa Praed, were of an earlier, politer, largely Melbourne-based school whose writing tended towards drawing room romances.
So Baynton, as a woman and a realist, stood out. But between Baynton and Lawson there was one major difference. Lawson’s Lone Bushman strove to support himself and to support his family, although often failing, and was pictured with humour and pathos. The women in Baynton’s fiction were hard working and resourceful but they were preyed on by the men. The Lone Bushman, to Baynton’s women, was a figure of fear.
Hackforth-Jones (PHJ from here on) attempts in this biography to set out the reasons for Baynton’s approach, successfully I think, although some of the argument is circular, ie. her understanding of Baynton’s reasoning is based largely on the stories themselves. In the Preface, PHJ writes, “Barbara Baynton left no diary and very few letters. Her articles and essays, poetry and interviews are the only evidence of her life and character apart from her three published books. Because of this, information from her friends and relatives forms the backbone of this biography.” Further, “In the early parts of the book … I have bridged gaps between known facts with the suggestions I found in her literary work.” In fact, PHJ is explicit in quite a number of places in her narrative about assuming Baynton’s fiction is autobiographical.
Add to this the reliance PHJ places on family anecdotes, and Baynton’s own wilful and frequent misstating of her antecedents, including in official documents, and you can see her account of Bayton’s early life – her childhood, first marriage and the birth of her three children – skates perilously close to faction.
Baynton was born in Scone, NSW, in 1857, the seventh of eight children, to immigrant (English) parents. Her father, John Lawrence was a cedar cutter and timber worker. There are a number of stories about Barbara’s parents’ marriage. PHJ speculates Lawrence was another man who took both Lawrence’s wife and his name. Baynton herself used to claim her mother first married her cousin (Ewart) in England and that Lawrence was a ‘Bengal Lancer’ she met on the voyage out.
Baynton had an interrupted schooling, due both to poverty and to very poor eyesight. She was near sighted and much of the landscape was a blur. But subject to the limited resources available to her, and especially after Scone gained a public library when she was 13, she was an avid reader. In 1875 she began applying for positions as ‘governess’. The first she was offered, almost as far west as Bourke, seemed when she arrived to involve rather more contact with the men of the station than she had anticipated and she rapidly returned home. The second was closer to home, near Murrurundi, and was for the Frater family for whom she was to supervise the younger 3 or 4 of their seven children.
Let me, at this point, make two asides. Firstly, I have run into the job description ‘governess’ a number of times in reading about the Australian Bush in the C19th, including when I was researching the education of women in my own family, and it seems to mean mostly a young woman with some literacy to engage in child minding. And secondly, PHJ reports Baynton using the expression Never Never (“This is ther Never-Never – ther lars’ place Gord made”) en route to her first appointment (in 1875 or 6). Wikipedia attributed the first usage to Barcroft Boake in 1891. I have added an earlier usage, in 1884, and that I expect the expression was in general use throughout the second half of the 1800s, which this example tends to confirm.
Inevitably, Baynton married one of the older boys, Alex Frater, in 1880 and his father gave them a largely uncleared property in the Coonamble region, with a primitive timber shack and “the nearest neighbour a day’s ride away.” Alex established a home paddock to run a few cattle but was more interested in drinking and gambling than in clearing scrub and left the running of the cattle to Barbara, which was a problem as she could barely see them or make out the way home if she wandered any distance. Over the next few years they had three children, Alec, Robert and Penelope. Briefly, Barbara engages her 18 yo niece to help with the children, her husband runs off with the niece and gets her pregnant, and Barbara and children are destitute, living briefly with different members of her own family and dependent on Alex, and sometimes on Alex’s relatively well-off mother, for support. Eventually she is able to obtain a divorce, moves to Sydney and becomes housekeeper and then wife to the much older Dr Baynton.
Baynton begins to write, drawing on the loneliness and fear she felt while isolated in the Bush, finds an ally in AG Stephens, editor of the Bulletin, and a lifelong friend in her Woollahra neighbour, suffragist Rose Scott. On the basis of her husband’s position she moves rapidly up the social scale, and on his death (in 1904) invests wisely and becomes wealthy.
In this period Baynton apparently also runs across Miles Franklin.
Miles Franklin had just had her novel My Brilliant Career published when Barbara met her in Stephens’s office. The novel was a ‘bookful of sunlight’ to him, and he had given her a large box of chocolates as a token of his appreciation. Miles Franklin still had the box on her lap when she and Barbara sat together waiting for a tram, Miles chattering in her excitement at the success her book was having. There was no response. After a few minutes Miles began to notice how sallow Barbara’s skin was and how untidy her hair. Then Barbara smiled rather sardonically and Miles was left with the distinct impression she had sounded foolish, Barbara was envious. Talented and published girls of eighteen were not the sort of people she wanted to spend a lot of time with. She had learnt to distrust girls of eighteen, no matter how ‘fresh natural and sincere’ Stephens thought them.
PHJ positions this story in 1895, when it could only have occurred in 1902, when MF was 23, and in her notes ascribes the story to Kylie Tennant, “Miles Franklin: Feminist whose men were men”, SMH, 23 Jul 1974.
In 1902 Baynton sails to England with her daughter and is able to have published there a collection of her short stories. She then commences work on the short novel Human Toll, but without AG Stephens’ editing it is badly done and not a success. Moving backwards and forwards between London and Sydney she is in London when war (WWI) breaks out. Penelope marries Australian journalist Henry Gullet and he and Baynton’s sons all enlist. Baynton is friends with Australian PM Billie Hughes and is both anti-women’s suffrage and pro-conscription. On the other hand her London home is open to hundreds of Australian enlisted men (not officers) on leave during the war. A classic social climber, Baynton is portrayed as a cantankerous grande dame in the title role in Martin Boyd’s novel Brangane (1926). I have read many Boyd novels but not this one unfortunately.
Baynton continues to write, principally for the expatriates’ magazine the British-Australasian, and her short stories are republished, as Cobbers, with the addition of two wartime stories. She marries a baronet, who divorces her when he can’t get at her money to support his castle in Ireland, returns to Australia, to Melbourne where her son in law builds her a fine house. And so she lives out her life in style with ‘Lady’ in front of her name, with servants, and a red Daimler.
Penne Hackforth-Jones, Barbara Baynton: Between Two Worlds, Penguin, Melbourne, 1989 (Melbourne University Press, 1995)
My review of Baynton’s short story Squeaker’s Mate here
My review of the novel, Human Toll here
A search of Whispering Gum’s site brings up many responses when you search on Baynton, but for an overview start here.
Ditto for Lisa at ANZ Lit Lovers, but start here.
I forget how I came across this blog but ShawJonathon provides an interesting perspective here.
Baynton, Barbara Jane (1857–1929)
This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979
Barbara Jane Baynton (1857-1929), writer, was born on 4 June 1857 at Scone, New South Wales, youngest daughter of John Lawrence, carpenter, and his wife Elizabeth, née Ewart, who had arrived in Sydney from Londonderry, Ireland, as bounty immigrants in the Royal Consort on 9 November 1840. However Barbara later alleged that her father was Captain Robert Lawrence Kilpatrick of the Bengal Light Cavalry. By 1866 the Lawrences had moved to Murrurundi. Educated at home, Barbara enjoyed the works of Dickens and the Russian novelists; she became a governess with the Fraters at Merrylong Park, south of Quirindi. On 24 June 1880 at Tamworth Presbyterian Church she married Alexander Frater junior, a selector. Next year they moved to the Coonamble district, where she bore two sons and a daughter.
In 1887 Frater ran off with Sarah Glover, a servant in his household; Barbara took her children to Sydney, instituted divorce proceedings and was granted a decree absolute on 4 March 1890. Next day at St Philip’s Church of England, claiming to be a widow, she married a 70-year-old widower Thomas Baynton, who was a retired surgeon with literary and academic friends who visited his home at Woollahra. Financially secure, Barbara began to add to her husband’s collection of Georgian silver and antiques. Robust and vigorous, overflowing with vitality, she also began to write short stories, verse and articles for the Bulletin. Her first story, ‘The Tramp’, was published in December 1896. A. G. Stephens became a close friend.
After failing to find a publisher in Sydney for her collection of six short stories, in 1902 Barbara Baynton visited London where, with the help of Edward Garnett, the critic, Bush Studies was published that year by Duckworth & Co. She did not romanticize bush life and showed a savage revulsion against its loneliness and harshness. ‘A Dreamer’, ‘The Chosen Vessel’, ‘Scrammy ‘and’ and ‘Squeaker’s Mate’ are chilling tales of terror and nightmare, built up detail by detail rather than by atmosphere and the supernatural. Stephens reviewed Bush Studies in the Bulletin, 14 February 1903: ‘So precise, so complete, with such insight into detail and such force of statement, it ranks with the masterpieces of realism in any language’. To Vance Palmer, ‘Bush Church’ and ‘Billy Skywonkie’ had ‘a robust masculine humour’. Writing powerfully, with economy of style, Baynton used certain symbolic and recurrent themes, notably the strong maternal instinct, the loyalty of the dog, the isolation of the bush and a bitter insistence on man’s brutality to woman, which gave unity to the stories and lifted them above the plane of simple realism.
In 1903 Barbara Baynton returned to Sydney where her husband died on 10 June 1904, leaving her his whole estate, valued for probate at £3871. She began investing on the Stock Exchange, particulary in the Law Book Co. of Australasia Ltd of which she later became chairman of directors. An astute businesswoman, she also bought and sold antiques and started her fine collection of black opals from Lightning Ridge. She contributed occasional forceful articles to the Sydney Morning Herald on the ‘Indignity of Domestic Service’ and other women’s issues. She spent the next years between Australia and London, where she lived ‘in a succession of increasingly fine houses’, surrounded by Chinese lacquer, Chippendale furniture, ornate porcelain and silver. Something of a celebrity in literary circles, she entertained lavishly and knew many famous people. She found time to write her only novel, Human Toll (London, 1907) which, despite its melodrama and ‘unsure management of structure’, included in A. A. Phillips’s opinion ‘some of her most characteristic writing … and maturer insights into human behaviour’. During World War I she opened her house in Connaught Square to British and Australian soldiers, and in 1917 published Cobbers, a reissue of Bush Studies with two new stories, including ‘Trooper Jim Tasman’.
On 11 February 1921 Barbara Baynton married Rowland George Allanson-Winn, fifth baron Headley, president of the Society of Engineers and of the Muslim Society in England, and a sportsman. Next year he became bankrupt. Outraged when he refused the throne of Albania, she returned to Melbourne in a huff.
Rowland George Allanson Allanson-Winn, 5th Baron Headley (19 January 1855 – 22 June 1935), also known as Shaikh Rahmatullah al-Farooq, was an Irish peer and a prominent convert to Islam, who was also one of the leading members of the Woking Muslim Mission alongside Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din. He also presided over the British Muslim Society for some time.
She built a house at Toorak, near her daughter Penelope who had married (Sir) Henry Gullett in 1912, and furnished it with Queen Anne and Georgian pieces. Bored with it, she sold its contents with such success that she returned to England and brought back another shipload of antiques. Dark, with heavily lidded, watchful eyes, she loved jewellery, especially opals and pearls, and beautiful clothes. With considerable charm, ‘a devastating wit’, a caustic tongue and a domineering personality, she had the ability to amuse and impress people. W. M. Hughes found her ‘a remarkable woman’.
Lady Headley died of cerebral thrombosis at her home at Toorak on 28 May 1929 and was cremated. Her estate was sworn for probate at £160,621. She was survived by her first and third husbands and by two sons and a daughter of her first marriage; a son by her second husband had died in infancy. Robert Guy Frater, her second son, inherited her adventurous spirit: he went to the South African War at 15, raised soldiers for a Chinese warlord, served in the Archduke Ferdinand’s bodyguard at Sarajevo and, with his brother, fought with the British Army in World War I. Her portrait by John Longstaff is held by the Frater family.
- Krimmer, ‘New light on Barbara Baynton’, Australian Literary Studies, Oct 1976, and for bibliography
- Supreme Court, W. J. Windeyer divorce note books, 1889 (State Records New South Wales)
- private information.
- personal papers, MS 3077 (National Library of Australia)
- Trove search
- ‘Frater v Frater’, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 December 1888, p 5
- ‘An Australian Authoress’, Register (Adelaide), 21 June 1912, p 9
- Baynton, ‘The Children’s Hospital’, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 July 1920, p 10
- ‘Peers Romance: Married at Registry Office’, Mail (Adelaide), 12 February 1921, p 1
- ‘Lord Headley’, Brisbane Courier, 14 February 1921, p 7
- ‘Australian Peeress Returns’, Sunday Times (Perth), 18 September 1921, p 23
- ‘Headley Separation Suit’, Register (Adelaide), 8 May 1924, p 11
- ‘England Falls From Grace’, Examiner (Launceston), 3 December 1927, p 2
- Palmer, ‘Barbara Baynton: A Literary Pioneer’, Brisbane Courier, 15 June 1929, p 21
- ‘Story Behind Will’, Mail (Adelaide), 19 October 1929, p 3
- discussion of her writing, Brisbane Courier, 17 October 1931, p 14
Related Entries in NCB Sites
View family tree:
- Baynton, Barbara Jane
- Headley, Lord (husband)
- Gullett, Henry Somer (son-in-law)
- Gullett, Henry Baynton Somer (grandson)
- Stephens, Alfred George (friend)
- Longstaff, John Campbell (artist)
‘Baynton, Barbara Jane (1857–1929)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/baynton-barbara-jane-5162/text8669, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 14 July 2019.
This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979
Barbara Baynton Facts
Barbara Baynton (1857-1929) was an Australian novelist and short-story writer. Her work is notable for its rejection of Australian nationalism and the Australian bush, especially tales of women struggling to cope with the harsh realities of bush life.
Baynton was born in Scone, in the Hunter Valley area of New South Wales, Australia, on June 4, 1857. For many years, the date of her birth and the identities of her parents were uncertain, because Baynton altered her birth date and disguised her parents’ identities. She claimed to have been born in 1862, to Penelope Ewart and Captain Robert Kilpatrick, who were supposedly Irish immigrants to Australia and fell in love on the ship en route to Australia. Although Penelope Ewart was supposedly married at the time, she began a relationship with Kilpatrick and later married him when her husband died. This story, which was believed even by Baynton’s own grandchildren, was later proven false. Her parents’ names were John Lawrence and Elizabeth Ewart. Baynton was born Barbara Lawrence, not Barbara Kilpatrick, and her father was a carpenter, not the rich landowner she claimed him to be.
As Sally Krimmer and Alan Lawson commented in Barbara Baynton, it is not clear why Baynton invented these things. In particular, her motives for saying that her parents were not married when they began their relationship are especially difficult to understand, especially since she lived in an era when unmarried relationships were considered scandalous. The authors speculated that Baynton and her social circle may have found the story romantic, or that she preferred people to think that her father was wealthy. Contemporary Authors Online quotes Baynton’s grandson, H.B. Gullett: “She was a highly imaginative woman with no strict regard for truth. She told her children many conflicting stories of her early years … and it rather seems as if the truth to her was what she chose to believe it ought to be at any given moment… .”
However, Baynton’s family life as a young girl may have helped with her fantasy about her parents. She was the seventh child of John and Elizabeth Lawrence, but when she was three years old, her mother had another child. This child was not John Lawrence’s, although he raised the boy as part of his family.
Despite these stories, Baynton grew up in the Scone district, where her father did carpentry work. In the early 1860s, her family moved twenty-five miles north to Murrurundi, where one of Baynton’s brothers established a blacksmith shop. Two other brothers set up a sawmill in Spring Ridge. Meanwhile, Baynton became a governess at Merrylong Park, in the Quirindi district, where she met Alexander Hay Frator, a selector. The couple married in 1880; Baynton was 23. They had three children, Alexander Hay, Robert Guy, and Penelope. However, Frater left Baynton for one of her cousins while the children were still young.
Began to Write
Baynton moved to Sydney and took various jobs, including selling Bibles door-to-door, in order to survive and provide for her family. On March 4, 1890, she and Frater officially divorced; she married 70-year-old Dr. Thomas Baynton the next day. On the marriage certificate, she wrote that she was widowed not divorced. Their marriage lasted fifteen years, and they had one son, who died in infancy. Thomas Baynton supported his wife and her children and introduced her to a wide variety of people. By 1903 she was friends with one-time Australian prime minister Billy Hughes; High Commissioner for Australia in London George Reid; and Federal Chief Justice Sir Samuel Griffith, among others.
Baynton’s husband was an antique collector, a hobby she picked up as well. Her collection was famed throughout Australia, as was her collection of black opals. The couple bought “Fairmont,” an impressive house in Sydney. Baynton, with her new financial security and high social standing, began to write. Despite the fact that she was now far removed from her rough childhood in the Australian bush, she drew most of her ideas from that time. Her first story, “The Tramp” (later retitled “The Chosen Vessel”), was published in the Bulletin in 1896. The Bulletin’s editor, A.G. Stephens, became Bayton’s friend and encouraged her to keep writing.
Baynton wrote a short story collection titled Bush Studies but had trouble finding a publisher in Sydney or in London. Edward Garnett, a critic and publisher’s reader, persuaded Duckworth & Company of London to publish Bush Studies in 1902. Her later works, Human Toll (1907) and Cobbers (1917), were published by the same company.
Thomas Baynton died in 1904, after which Baynton moved to London and frequently visited Australia. She divided her time between writing and collecting antiques. By 1917 Baynton had written two more stories, “Trooper Jim Tasman” and “Toohey’s Party,” which she added to Bush Stories to make Cobbers. These stories arose from Baynton’s experience of hosting “open houses” for soldiers at her homes in London and in Essex during World War I.
In 1921, Baynton married Lord Headley in London. Headley was the fifth Baronet of Little Watley, Essex. He had converted to Islam, was the president of the Muslim Society, and had made a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1923. When they married, Baynton received Ardoe House, a gracious mansion in Ireland, but the marriage did not last long; they were separated in 1924 after a year and a half of legal wrangling. Baynton continued to live in London and Melbourne and kept up her passion for antiques. Her health, never robust, began to deteriorate, and she spent several periods in health resorts and nursing homes between 1905 and her death in 1929.
Krimmer and Lawson wrote that Baynton was “a grand lady with a strong character,” and commented that her friends said she was “lovable, rash, clever, impulsive, generous,” as well as “quick to anger, liable to be unjust, but always ready to forgive and make friends.” She was also notably tasteful in her dress and memorable for her “dramatic nature.”
Critical Response to Stories
The tales in Bush Studies reflect some of Baynton’s intensity. The stories emphasize the brutality and violence of the bush, as well as the starkly unequal relationship between men and women there. In Baynton’s tales, men are associated with the bush and its malevolent nature, and women, as representatives of civilization and gentleness, are forced to succumb to their exploitation. Unlike other Australian literature of the time, which celebrated the bush community as a place of hospitality, camaraderie, and compassion, Baynton mocks bush people and their ways. However, she balances this negativity by emphasizing motherhood as a source of hope, redemption, and creativity. Contemporary Authors Online explains: “Considering Baynton’s own experience of motherhood … it is scarcely surprising that ambivalence toward the maternal haunts Baynton’s fiction.”
Krimmer and Lawrence wrote of Baynton’s work that her “stories are powerfully expressed and closely unified. Her vision is communicated through a straightforward yet intense style. Each story has a clear, almost single-minded impulse and each contributes to a cumulative effect which is memorable and convincing.” They also commented that each story “sets out to investigate a particular situation, to explore a particular emotion, and to develop a particular motif. … Each story has an inexorable progress towards a dire conclusion—death, rape, rejection or some combination of these—and the progress itself is in the form of an ordeal which serves to heighten the victim’s … perception of the horror of his or her vulnerability.”
One of Baynton’s most famous stories is “Squeaker’s Mate.” The title character of the story is married to Squeaker, a farmer. She is described as “the best long-haired mate that ever stepped in petticoats.” A branch falls and breaks her back, and she is incapacitated, although her husband is too self-absorbed to notice. Forced to lie in bed, she must now rely on her husband for subsidence. As Squeaker brings his mistress into the home, his wife is forced to stay into a lean-to. However, she can still use her upper body, and when her husband’s mistress comes to the lean-to to take away her food and water, she relies on it to strangle the other woman. Her loyal dog, in turn, attacks Squeaker. In A History of Australian Literature, Ken Goodwin commented, “Here is rage externally suppressed and then breaking out in a more positive and frightening way… .” and that this violence is “approved of by the author, not the fierce predatoriness of a peripheral marauder.” The two stories that Baynton added to Cobbers are, according to Krimmer and Lawson, “of little interest in themselves,” but they do show Baynton’s interest in using local dialect as well as dark humor.
Baynton wrote only one novel, Human Toll, which was published in 1907. It has never been reprinted and is consequently rare and little known. Like her stories, it is drawn from her life in the bush, but it is difficult to determine how much of it is autobiographical. It does not have a strong structure but presents many short scenes of bush life. Ursula, the main character, wants to write but feels that she cannot do so until she moves away from the bush. The novel examines the effect of the bush on the men and women who live there, especially the toll the environment takes on them. Like her short stories, the novel also emphasizes women’s vulnerability and men’s exploitation and greed. It also emphasizes the positive value of maternity. Krimmer and Lawton commented that although the book is sometimes slow or discursive, some of the scenes “have a self-contained unity and intensity which echo the achievements of Bush Studies.” They also wrote that the most vibrant scene in the book is the last one, with Ursula lost, carrying the dead baby through the trackless bush. A.A. Phillips of The Australian Nationalists, praised Baynton’s grounding of her fiction in very real life; the “bread-and-butter directness” of her style, her clear visualization, and her skill in exposition. Baynton begins her stories at points of crisis, and shows events though characters’ actions and dialogue, rather than through authorial explanation.
Baynton died on May 28, 1929, at her home in Melbourne, after breaking her leg and contracting pneumonia. Phillips wrote that Baynton represented “with rare directness, [a] revolt against self-confident Australianism, despite the fact that she is not a social writer.” Krimmer and Lawson summed up Baynton’s literary impact by writing that although she has long been unknown and unread, “in the past decade she has been enthusiastically ‘discovered’ by a large number of readers. … Now that her name is relatively well known the time is ripe to make available for assessment the whole range of her literary work.”
Goodwin, Ken, A History of Australian Literature, St. Martin’s Press, 1986, pp. 43-44.
Krimmer, Sally, and Alan Lawson, editors, Barbara Baynton, University of Queensland Press, 1980.
Pierre, Peter, editor, Oxford Literary Guide to Australia, Oxford University Press, 1993.
Phillips, A. A., “Barbara Baynton and the Dissidence of the Nineties,” in The Australian Nationalists, edited by Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Oxford University Press, 1971.
Encyclopedia of World Biography. Copyright 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.