Eldershaw, M Barnard

Tagged: Author

Collaborative pseudonym used by Australian authors and critics Marjorie Faith Barnard (1897-1987) and Flora Sydney Patricia Eldershaw (1897-1956) for four well-regarded mainstream novels 1929-1937; nearly all the writing was done by Barnard – who had published a solo book as early as 1920 – with Eldershaw being the critical editorial eye. Barnard long claimed that a fifth novel, also published as by M Barnard Eldershaw and the most distinguished work under this pseudonym, was by her alone, though posthumously published correspondence establishes the work as collaborative: Tomorrow and Tomorrow (cut 1947; text restored vt Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow 1983) is a political novel whose framing story is set in the twenty-fourth century, where a historical novelist living in the Tenth Commune (once the Riverina) has written a book about Australia from 1924 to circa 1950, the years of Depression and World War Two. The novel within a novel, entitled Little World Left Behind, is a striking picture of an Australia well known to Barnard, seen as if from a future perspective. As she had finished writing the book by 1944, the later events of World War Two and its supposed aftermath – including the burning of Sydney by its anguished inhabitants – are pure sf, as is the future in which the novelist lives, a blighted, indifferent Utopia. Indeed the whole novel is very sophisticated, very unusual sf, part of whose subject is the elusiveness of History and its relation to fiction.

The book's publisher, unknown to Barnard, submitted it before publication to the censor, who saw it as politically subversive and therefore mutilated the latter part, thus bearing witness to the same repressive forces that give the novel its theme. Peter Carey's My Life as a Fake (2003) also touches on this embarrassing period of Australian history. [PN]

see also: Australia.

Marjorie Faith Barnard

born Sydney, New South Wales: 1897

died 8 May 1987

Flora Sydney Patricia Eldershaw

born Sydney, New South Wales: 16 March 1897

died Wagga Wagga, New South Wales: 20 September 1956

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