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Issue Details: First known date: 1930... 1930 The Fortunes of Richard Mahony : Comprising Australia Felix, The Way Home, Ultima Thule
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

The Fortunes of Richard Mahony was 'first published as a sequence. Australia Felix, the first volume, which covers twelve years of Richard Mahony’s life from the early 1850s, was published in 1917; The Way Home, which deals with his subsequent eight years, appeared in 1925; and Ultima Thule, the final volume covering his last four years, in 1929. The novel was first published as a trilogy in 1930.'

Australia Felix 'begins the story of Richard Mahony, a 28-year-old medical graduate of Edinburgh University and now the keeper of a general store in Ballarat'. Part one of the novel 'follows Mahony’s career until his marriage; the second part deals with the Eureka Stockade, the growth of the varied society of Ballarat and legal hearing in Melbourne'. It 'concludes with Mahony’s decision to start a practice in Ballarat instead of returning to England'. In parts three and four, 'Richardson extends her panoramic picture of a dynamic colonial society in which individuals are subject to great reversals or advances of fortune'.

The Way Home begins with Mahony’s 'arrival in England and concludes with his final, second return to Australia, as a ruined man. In the intervening years he grows disillusioned with English society, returns to Australia to find his investments have made him suddenly rich, attempts to settle into the wealthy community of Melbourne and becomes the father of three children'. His sojourn in England leads to the discovery that he is uncomfortable with the ‘offensive and cramping’ English social hierarchy.

Ultima Thule picks up the story with Mahony’s 'return to Australia, his attempts to establish himself as a medical practitioner, first in Melbourne and then at Barambogie, a small town in northern Victoria'. When Mahony’s skills as a doctor as increasingly questioned, the family moves to the coast and later to Gymgurra where Mahony’s wife, Mary, 'secures a position as postmistress'. Mahony is moved to a private nursing home, then to a government asylum and finally returns home. He is 'devotedly cared by Mary, until paralysis incapacitates his body. After his death he is buried in the local cemetery, within sound of the sea'.

Source: The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature. 2nd. ed. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1994: 294-295.

Exhibitions

8391702
10630101
10626492

Adaptations

form y separately published work icon The Fortunes of Richard Mahony Edmund Barclay , Australia : Australian Broadcasting Commission , 1949-1950 9494408 1949 series - publisher radio play historical fiction

A radio adaptation of Henry Handel Richardson's novel.

y separately published work icon Ultima Thulet : A Libretto Paul Sherman , 1997 Z1413664 1997 single work lyric/song
y separately published work icon The Fortunes of Richard Mahony Michael Gow , Sydney : Currency Press Playbox Theatre , 2002 Z980470 2002 single work drama (taught in 1 units)

'As Richard Mahony struggles with survival, identity and sanity, with one foot in the old country and a toe-hold in the new, his life gallops alongside the great events of the nineteenth century. Written with enormous emotional power, this is the spiralling story of a nation’s turbulent adolescence.' (Publisher's abstract.)

Reading Australia

Reading Australia

This work has Reading Australia teaching resources.

Notes

  • The combined trilogy edition, first published in 1930, comprises the three parts published earlier as a sequence of individual novels: Australia Felix (originally published as The Fortunes of Richard Mahony, 1917), The Way Home (1925), Ultima Thule (1929).
  • Dedication: To W. L. R.
  • Epigraph: 'Every man is not only himself; . . men are lived over again; the world is now as it was in ages past; there was none then but there hath been some one since, that parellels him, and is, as it were, his revived self.' Religio Medici
  • Koroit, Victoria, is the model for Gymgurra in Ultima Thule; Shortland Bluff in the same novel is situated next to Queenscliff, Victoria and Barambogie is based on Chiltern, Victoria.
  • For further reviews and criticism (published up to 1970) see Gay Howells's bibliography Henry Handel Richardson, 1870-1946: A Bibliography to Honour the Centenary of Her Birth.
  • Selected in December 2004 by the Australian public in an ABC poll as Australia's 60th favourite book.

Contents

* Contents derived from the London,
c
England,
c
c
United Kingdom (UK),
c
Western Europe, Europe,
:
Heinemann , 1930 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
The Fortunes of Richard Mahony, Henry Handel Richardson , single work novel historical fiction

'He had never got within measurable distance of what he called life, at all…deep down in him, he knew, was an enormous residue of vitality…It was like a buried treasure, jealously kept for the event of his one day catching up with life: not the bare scramble for a living that here went by that name, but Life with a capital L.

'Richard Mahony is a restless man. Ballarat, England, Melbourne, Europe, the bush: elsewhere is always better.

'Searching for a place, a meaning, a life, Mahony and his wife Mary journey from wealth to poverty, order to chaos, sanity to the asylum. The Fortunes of Richard Mahony is a towering novel.' (Publication summary)

(p. 3-405)
Note: Omnibus editions of the series were also published and reprinted by Norton and Penguin. Follow the link to the omnibus edition for further details.
The Way Home: Being the Second Part of the Chronicle of The Fortunes of Richard Mahony, Henry Handel Richardson , single work novel historical fiction (p. 409-696)
Note: Omnibus editions of the series were also published and reprinted by Norton and Penguin. Follow the link to the omnibus edition for further details.
Ultima Thule : Being the Third Part of the Chronicle of The Fortunes of Richard Mahony, Henry Handel Richardson , single work novel historical fiction (p. 701-90)
Note: Omnibus editions of the series were also published and reprinted by Norton and Penguin. Follow the link to the omnibus edition for further details.
* Contents derived from the Ringwood, Ringwood - Croydon - Kilsyth area, Melbourne - East, Melbourne, Victoria,:Penguin , 1971 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
The Fortunes of Richard Mahony : Introduction, Leonie Kramer , single work criticism (p. v-xxvii)
* Contents derived from the Camberwell, Camberwell - Kew area, Melbourne - Inner South, Melbourne, Victoria,:Penguin , 2008 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Introduction : [The Fortunes of Richard Mahony], James Bradley , single work criticism (p. vii-xvi)
Note: Introduction appears in 2008 Penguin edition of The Fortunes of Richard Mahony.
* Contents derived from the Melbourne, Victoria,:Text Publishing , 2012 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
No Success Like Failure, Peter Craven , single work criticism (p. vii-xvii)
Note: Craven's introduction appears in the 2012 Text Publishing edition of The Fortunes of Richard Mahony.
The Fortunes of Richard Mahony, Henry Handel Richardson , single work novel historical fiction

'He had never got within measurable distance of what he called life, at all…deep down in him, he knew, was an enormous residue of vitality…It was like a buried treasure, jealously kept for the event of his one day catching up with life: not the bare scramble for a living that here went by that name, but Life with a capital L.

'Richard Mahony is a restless man. Ballarat, England, Melbourne, Europe, the bush: elsewhere is always better.

'Searching for a place, a meaning, a life, Mahony and his wife Mary journey from wealth to poverty, order to chaos, sanity to the asylum. The Fortunes of Richard Mahony is a towering novel.' (Publication summary)

(p. 1-383)
The Way Home: Being the Second Part of the Chronicle of The Fortunes of Richard Mahony, Henry Handel Richardson , single work novel historical fiction (p. 385-657)
Ultima Thule : Being the Third Part of the Chronicle of The Fortunes of Richard Mahony, Henry Handel Richardson , single work novel historical fiction (p. 659-941)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Heinemann ,
      1930 .
      image of person or book cover 4522242395067329641.jpg
      Title page, London: Heinemann, 1930
      Extent: 990p.
      Reprinted: 1930 New Impression November 1930. , 1931 New Impression January and March 1931. , 1934 , 1937 , 1939
      Note/s:
      • First published together in this volume November 1930.
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      W. W. Norton ,
      1931 .
      Extent: 3 volumes in one: 466, 321, 314 p.p.
      Reprinted: 1962
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Readers Club ,
      1941 .
      Extent: 948p.
      Note/s:
      • Foreword by Sinclair Lewis.
    • Melbourne, Victoria,: Heinemann , 1946 .
      Extent: 928p.
      Edition info: First Australian edition
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Heinemann ,
      1947 .
      Extent: 928p.
      Reprinted: 1951
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Heinemann ,
      1954 .
      Extent: 830p.
      Reprinted: 1961 , 1965 , 1969
      Note/s:
      • Printed in England.
    • Port Melbourne, South Melbourne - Port Melbourne area, Melbourne - Inner South, Melbourne, Victoria,: Minerva , 1992 .
      Extent: 827p.
      ISBN: 1863301755
    • Ringwood, Ringwood - Croydon - Kilsyth area, Melbourne - East, Melbourne, Victoria,: Penguin , 1998 .
      image of person or book cover 2537366669448546094.jpg
      This image has been sourced from Trove Australia
      Extent: 841p.
      Note/s:
      • Introduction by Michael Ackland.
      ISBN: 01404371X
    • Crows Nest, North Sydney - Lane Cove area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: The House of Books , 2012 .
      image of person or book cover 1752879530236617478.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 916p.
      Note/s:
      • 'Record machine-generated from publisher information. First published by William Heinemann Ltd, London, 1930.'
      ISBN: 9781743312391 (pbk.)
    • Melbourne, Victoria,: Text Publishing , 2012 .
      image of person or book cover 7811582733332759672.jpg
      Cover image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: xvii, 941p.p.
      Note/s:
      • Introduced by Peter Craven. Introduction indexed separately.
      • Publication date: 26 April 2012.
      • 'This edition of The Fortunes of Richard Mahony reproduces the text of the 1930 Heinemann edition, which gathered all three books in one volume' (t.p. verso).
      ISBN: 9781921922282 (pbk.)
      Series: y separately published work icon Text Classics Text Publishing (publisher), Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2012- Z1851461 2012 series - publisher novel 'Great books by great Australian storytellers.' (Text website.)
Alternative title: Richard Mahonys skaebne
Language: Danish
    • Copenhagen,
      c
      Denmark,
      c
      Scandinavia, Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Hagerup ,
      1931 .
      Extent: 2 vols. (349p., 460p.)p.

Other Formats

  • Also braille, sound recording.

Works about this Work

No Success Like Failure Peter Craven , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Fortunes of Richard Mahony : Comprising Australia Felix, The Way Home, Ultima Thule 2012; (p. vii-xvii)
The Teller of Tales Presents The Fortunes of Richard Mahony Chester Eagle , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Well in the Shadow : A Writer's Journey through Australian Literature 2010; (p. 98-117)
Feminism and Australian Literature Susan Sheridan , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Modern Australian Criticism and Theory 2010; (p. 92-103)
'Susan Sheridan traces the influence and varieties of feminism and feminist critique in Australia, arguably the major influence in transforming Australian literary studies in the 1980s and 1990s.' Source: Modern Australian Criticism and Theory (2010)
Hell for White Men : Masculinity and Race in The Fortunes of Richard Mahony Michelle Elleray , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Postcolonial Studies , March vol. 13 no. 1 2010; (p. 71-90)
As an historical work, Henry Handel Richardson's trilogy, The Fortunes of Richard Mahony, is embedded in the invocation, production and dissemination of cultural memory. Drawing on Peter Burke's discussion of social amnesia as the 'adjustment of the past to the present', this reading of a canonical Australian text points to the necessity of an active re-engagement with historical context in order to tease out suppressed or neglected narratives that run counter to, or intersect uneasily with, a later audience's assumptions about the past. The reading of the trilogy offered here examines cultural texts - both the trilogy and the texts from the period in which it is set - that allow us to understand the role of Chinese immigrants in the formation of white Australian narratives of settlement. Although the overt presence of Chinese in the trilogy is minimal, this reading will suggest that the debates their presence raised for white settlers, particularly when viewed through acclimatization theory and the cultural positioning of white women, are central to understanding Richardson's portrayal of Richard Mahony, a white settler who fails to adjust to settler life in Australia. An attention to the historical circumstances invoked by references to the Chinese in Richardson's trilogy sheds new light on the instability of Mahony's identification with Australia, which is so often read as inherent in Mahony alone, rather than as inherent in the historical and cultural conditions of the white settler in nineteenth-century Australia.
Introduction : [The Fortunes of Richard Mahony] James Bradley , 2008 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Fortunes of Richard Mahony : Comprising Australia Felix, The Way Home, Ultima Thule 2008; (p. vii-xvi)
Australian Books of 1930 Nettie Palmer , 1930 single work review
— Appears in: All About Books , 5 December vol. 2 no. 12 1930; (p. 307-310)

— Review of The Gully and Other Verses Furnley Maurice , 1929 selected work poetry ; The Wild Swan : Poems Mary Gilmore , 1930 selected work poetry ; Queensland Poets Henry Arthur Kellow , 1930 single work criticism ; The Fortunes of Richard Mahony : Comprising Australia Felix, The Way Home, Ultima Thule Henry Handel Richardson , 1930 selected work novel ; Ten Creeks Run : A Tale of the Horse and Cattle Stations of the Murrumbidgee Brent of Bin Bin , 1930 single work novel ; Men Are Human Vance Palmer , 1930 single work novel ; Haxby's Circus : The Lightest, Brightest Little Show on Earth Katharine Susannah Prichard , 1930 single work novel ; Redheap Norman Lindsay , 1930 single work novel ; The Difficult Art Georgia Rivers , 1930 single work novel ; Negrohead Roy Bridges , 1930 single work novel ; Earth Battle Dorothy Cottrell , 1930 single work novel ; Huon Belle : A Novel Isabel Dick , 1930 single work novel ; Only the Morning John Dalley , 1930 single work novel ; An Outline of Australian Literature H. M. Green , 1930 single work criticism ; Souvenirs d'une Parisienne aux Antipodes Marie Rousselet Niau , 1930 single work autobiography ; Knocking Round J. Le Gay Brereton , 1930 selected work criticism biography autobiography prose essay short story ; The Kitchen Table : a play in one act Vida Lenox , 1930 single work drama
Is It the Great Australian Novel? Brian McFarlane , 2007 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 22 December 2007; (p. 19)

— Review of The Fortunes of Richard Mahony : Comprising Australia Felix, The Way Home, Ultima Thule Henry Handel Richardson , 1930 selected work novel
New Novels Michael Sadler , 1930 single work review
— Appears in: Listener (UK) , 3 December 1930; (p. 939)

— Review of The Fortunes of Richard Mahony : Comprising Australia Felix, The Way Home, Ultima Thule Henry Handel Richardson , 1930 selected work novel
Untitled Nettie Palmer , 1948 single work review
— Appears in: Meanjin , Autumn vol. 7 no. 1 1948; (p. 60-62)

— Review of The Fortunes of Richard Mahony : Comprising Australia Felix, The Way Home, Ultima Thule Henry Handel Richardson , 1930 selected work novel
Untitled Frank Murphy , 1969 single work review
— Appears in: Advocate: A Weekly Catholic Journal , 11 September 1969; (p. 16)

— Review of The Fortunes of Richard Mahony : Comprising Australia Felix, The Way Home, Ultima Thule Henry Handel Richardson , 1930 selected work novel
Nations without States : The Search for Home in H. H.. Richardson's Fortunes of Richard Mahony and Yasmine Gooneratne's A Change of Skies John McLaren , 1995-1996 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Commonwealth Review , vol. 7 no. 1 1995-1996; (p. 79-86)
A Book About a Gentleman Nettie Palmer , 1928 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Bulletin , 12 January vol. 49 no. 2500 1928; (p. 5)
The Omnibus Development Phil Grim , 1930 single work prose
— Appears in: All About Books , 5 December vol. 2 no. 12 1930; (p. 316)
A Summary of the Best New Books 1930 single work column
— Appears in: All About Books , 5 December vol. 2 no. 12 1930; (p. 325-329)
This column is written 'as a bookseller selecting books for different types of readers rather than as a literary critic'. It is divided into the sections: 'Novels of Literary Merit', 'Popular Good Stories' and 'General Literature'. Its emphasis is not Australian literature.
New and Notes 1931 single work column
— Appears in: All About Books , 19 January vol. 3 no. 1 1931; (p. 10)
Last amended 30 Jan 2017 10:09:48
Settings:
  • Ballarat, Ballarat area, Ballarat - Bendigo area, Victoria,
  • Melbourne, Victoria,
  • Western District, Victoria,
  • Rutherglen - Chiltern area, North East Victoria, Victoria,
  • Geelong - Terang - Lake Bolac area, Victoria,
  • c
    England,
    c
    c
    United Kingdom (UK),
    c
    Western Europe, Europe,
  • Leicestershire,
    c
    England,
    c
    c
    United Kingdom (UK),
    c
    Western Europe, Europe,
  • ca. 1850-1900
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