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Mrs Aeneas Gunn
Posted by: Linda (
Date: June 11, 2004 06:47PM


I've just bought a copy of "We of the Never-Never" in a charity shop. All I have to go on is the blurb on the back cover. Do you think I will enjoy the book when I get the chance to read it?

Re: Mrs Aeneas Gunn
Posted by: IanB (
Date: June 11, 2004 08:23PM

Linda, it's an Australian autobigraphical classic, written by a Victorian-era schoolteacher who in 1902 married and went to live on a remote cattle station in the Northern Territory of Australia. (In Australian rural parlance, a 'station' is what the Americans would call a ranch). I confess I haven't physically read it, because it was read aloud to my Grade V class in Primary School by our teacher in daily 'story' periods over some months. We enjoyed it, and it expanded our appreciation of our own country. For us southern city (Melbourne) children who had never been to the far outback, and never met Aborigines, it evoked another world. That was long before the days of television. Probably the language and the story seem old fashioned now, but the publishers still reprint it, so it must attract some modern readers.

Friends of mine made a fine Australian film of the book in 1982. I went to the investors' preview and was vastly impressed. Later I took some visitors to see it on commercial release and was disappointed to find some of the most interesting episodes gone. I asked the producer why, after going to such lengths to achieve excellence, he had retreated with stupid and insensitive late editing. He agreed with me sadly and said the distributors had insisted on the cuts to reduce the running time to try to put more bums on seats. The wretched lowest common denominator principle. I hope the mutilations have been restored in the DVD version, but wouldn't bet on it.

Incidentally the 'Never Never' refers to the Australian outback, particularly north of the Tropic of Capricorn, and is so named because it's said once you go there, you'll never never leave. Not true in Jeannie Gunn's case. She returned to Melbourne after a year and wrote her famous book.

Happy reading!


Post Edited (06-11-04 19:24)

Re: Mrs Aeneas Gunn
Posted by: Linda (
Date: June 12, 2004 06:19PM

Thanks Ian, I'll let you know what I think of when I read it. There are two others ahead of in the heap, but one of those shouldn't take long.

Re: Mrs Aeneas Gunn
Posted by: Kara (210.8.245.---)
Date: August 16, 2004 08:10AM

Did she write "Wild Colonial Boy" or "The Little Black Princess"?

Re: Mrs Aeneas Gunn
Posted by: IanB (
Date: August 16, 2004 09:13AM

"The Little Black Princess" is another of her books, but so far as I know she never wrote anything called "Wild Colonial Boy".

There's a much earlier, anonymous Australian ballad called "The Wild Colonial Boy" about the exploits of one Jack Doolan, a bushranger [an outlaw robber roaming and hiding out in uncleared rural regions]. Probably written or brought to Australia by a Nineteenth Century Irish migrant. Not at all sophisticated as poetry, but popular as an anti-establishment song.

Re: Mrs Aeneas Gunn
Posted by: Pam Adams (
Date: August 16, 2004 02:22PM


Have you read any of Nevil Shute's works? I loved A Town Called Alice, which is set in Australia, post WW2. (I also highly recommend 'Round the Bend')



'Tis of a wild Colonial Boy, Jack Doolan was his name,
Of poor but honest parents he was born in Castlemaine.
He was his father's only hope, his mother's pride and joy,
And dearly did his parents love the wild Colonial Boy.

Come, all my hearties, we'll roam the mountains high,
Together we will plunder, together we will die.
We'll wander over valleys, and gallop over plains,
And we'll scorn to live in slavery, bound down with iron chains.

He was scarcely sixteen years of age when he left his father's home,
And through Australia's sunny clime a bushranger did roam.
He robbed those wealthy squatters, their stock he did destroy,
And a terror to Australia was the wild Colonial Boy.

In sixty-one this daring youth commenced his wild career,
With a heart that knew no danger, no foeman did he fear.
He stuck up the Beechworth mail-coach, and robbed Judge MacEvoy,
Who trembled, and gave up his gold to the wild Colonial Boy.

He bade the judge "Good morning", and told him to beware,
That he'd never rob a hearty chap that acted on the square,
And never to rob a mother of her son and only joy,
Or else you might turn outlaw, like the wild Colonial Boy.

One day as he was riding the mountain-side along,
A-listening to the little birds, their pleasant laughing song,
Three mounted troopers rode along - Kelly, Davis and FitzRoy -
They thought that they would capture him, the wild Colonial Boy.

"Surrender now, Jack Doolan, you see there's three to one.
Surrender now, Jack Doolan, you're a daring highwayman."
He drew a pistol from his belt, and shook the little toy,
"I'll fight, but not surrender," said the wild Colonial Boy.

He fired at Trooper Kelly and brought him to the ground,
And in return from Davis received a mortal wound.
All shattered through the jaws he lay still firing at FitzRoy,
And that's the way they captured him - the wild Colonial Boy.

Re: Mrs Aeneas Gunn
Posted by: Linda (
Date: August 16, 2004 06:27PM

Never read any Nevil Shute, euppose I ought to. I've now finished the Mrs Gunn. The edition I have is an abridged version of both her books, We of the never never and The little black princess. The afterward says that she only wrote these two books having then become involved in charitable works for ex-servicemen.

Allowing for its age I quite enjoyed the book, its a very different world from now, and seems to have been different from where she came from.

Re: Mrs Aeneas Gunn
Posted by: Chesil (---.clvdoh.adelphia.)
Date: August 16, 2004 06:48PM

I was a Nevil Shute fanatic as a teen. I must have read everything he produced. Haven't read them in a long long time, but perhaps I will pick one or two up again. Round the Bend was the book that captivated me most, not at all sure why.

Re:Neville Shute books
Posted by: marian2 (
Date: August 17, 2004 04:44AM

'What happened to the Corbetts' is an interesting one and tends to be harder to find than the others. It was written just before World War 2 and predicted what would happen if England was bombed- sewage problems, power loss, food shortages etc. It was used by the authorities to make their congingency plans and, in the event, things were never as bad as Shute predicted (anarchy, people looting and threatening each other with guns over food etc). It strongly reminds me of some of John Wyndham books concentrating on the various ways people react to huge disastrous changes, but of course, there are no aliens in it!

Trustee from the Toolroom is another you don't hear about and is very good.

Re: Mrs Aeneas Gunn
Posted by: John Turner (
Date: October 05, 2004 05:01PM

I am trying to find out if Neville Shute wrote any poetry. Please could anybody tell me whether or not he did.
If he did, a n example would be appreciated or a reference to a book which includes his poetry.


Re: Mrs Aeneas Gunn
Posted by: Hugh Clary (12.73.175.---)
Date: October 06, 2004 11:47AM

Google searches suggest he did write some poetry early in his career. I could find no examples, however. Full name appears to be Nevil Shute Norway, btw.

Re: Mrs Aeneas Gunn
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (
Date: October 06, 2004 12:55PM

sounds more like a headline

Re: Mrs Aeneas Gunn
Posted by: Pam Adams (134.71.192.---)
Date: October 06, 2004 09:33PM

I just found it on Proiject Gutenberg. It will go high on my read-soon list.


Re: Mrs Aeneas Gunn
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: October 07, 2004 02:01PM

I just found it on Project Gutenberg.

What's the link? Searching for Shute or Norway turned up zip.


Re: Mrs Aeneas Gunn
Posted by: Pam Adams (
Date: October 07, 2004 03:34PM

Sorry, it wasn't Shute I found, but the 'We of the Never-Never' that started the thread. [] />
Shute's probably still under copyright.


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