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y separately published work icon Coonardoo : The Well in the Shadow single work   novel  
Issue Details: First known date: 1928... 1928 Coonardoo : The Well in the Shadow
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Set in North-West of Western Australia, it describes life on cattle stations and the relationship between the white owner of the station and Coonardoo, an Aboriginal woman.



Reading Australia

Reading Australia

This work has Reading Australia teaching resources.

Unit Suitable For

AC: Year 12 (Literature Unit 3). Also suitable for Year 10 English and Year 11 Literature.


Aboriginality, Australian country life, love, prejudice, reconciliation, relationships

General Capabilities

Intercultural understanding, Literacy

Cross-curriculum Priorities

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Serialised by: The Bulletin 1880 periodical (6777 issues)
      1928 .
      Alternative title: Coonardoo
      • Published in serialised format in the Bulletin in 15 weekly instalments, from 5 September 1928.
    • London,
      United Kingdom (UK),
      Western Europe, Europe,
      Jonathan Cape ,
      1929 .
      image of person or book cover 278700933826235438.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 320p.
      • Includes a glossary, pp.7-9, of 'Native Words'.
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      United States of America (USA),
      W. W. Norton ,
      1930 .
      Alternative title: Coonardoo
      Extent: v, 9-320 p.p.
      • Includes a 'Glossary of Aboriginal and Australian Words', pp.310-320.
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Pacific Books , 1961 .
      Extent: vi, 207p.p.
      Reprinted: 1968 , 1971
      Series: Pacific Books Angus and Robertson (publisher), 1961 series - publisher The establishment of this paperback imprint of Angus Robertson was spearheaded by Beatrice Davis. It started with print runs of 20,000 in 1961 (Paper Empires: History of Book in Australia, 18).This paperback series, published by Angus and Robertson, contains both numbered and unnumbered volumes. Number in series: 5
    • Moscow,
      Former Soviet Union,
      Eastern Europe, Europe,
      Progress Publishers ,
      1974 .
      Extent: 274p.
      Description: illus.
      • Includes bibliography.
      • Preface in Russian by L. Kasatkina.
      • Glossary and commentary in Russian by L. Golobchinskaiya.
    • Pymble, Turramurra - Pymble - St Ives area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: HarperCollins , 2002 .
      Alternative title: Coonardoo
      Extent: xx, 250p.p.
      • Introduced by Drusilla Modjeska. Also includes introduction to 1964 edition by Douglas Stewart.
      ISBN: 0207198470
    • South Sydney area, Sydney Southern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: HarperCollins , 2013 .
      image of person or book cover 4438422667243738897.jpg
      Cover image courtesy of publisher.
      Extent: 304p.
      • First published 1929
      • Published: 1st March 2013
      ISBN: 9780732296933 (pbk.)
    • South Sydney area, Sydney Southern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: HarperCollins , 2013 .
      Extent: 1 v.p.
      • First published in 1929 and also issued in printed form.
      ISBN: 9780730496571 (ebook)

Other Formats

  • Also braille, sound recording.

Works about this Work

Imperial Affairs : The British Empire and the Romantic Novel, 1890–1939 Hsu-Ming Teo , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: New Directions in Popular Fiction : Genre, Distribution, Reproduction 2016; (p. 87-110)

The British romantic novel became a distinct and bestselling genre during the mid-nineteenth century, when Charlotte M. Yonge’s The Heir of Redclyffe (1853) inspired other authors to write thrilling love stories published in triple-decker volumes that were sold at W.H. Smith railway bookstalls or circulated through 'Charles Mudie’s Select Library (Anderson 1974, p. 25). Women writers during this time, such as Yonge, Rhoda Broughton and Mary Elizabeth Braddon, popularised stories that featured the trials and tribulations of British heroes and heroines who fall in love, overcome various obstacles to their relationship, marry or are tragically parted by death (Anderson 1974). Most of their novels are set in Britain or, for more exotic fare, the Continent. However, from the 1890s onwards, they were joined by women writers from Britain’s colonies and dominions. This period was the zenith of British imperial power and, unsurprisingly, women writers used the colonies as exotic backdrops for their love stories. Romantic novels from the 1890s to the Second World War spread imperial fantasies of women who travelled to the colonies, hunted, worked as governesses, nurses and secretaries, managed households, ran viable plantations, fended off attacks by ‘the natives’, fell in love, married and made a place for themselves in the empire. Dreams of love and empire building bloomed in what I am calling women’s imperial romantic novels: love stories set in India, the white settler colonies and dominions, and Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.' (Publication summary)

Other Peoples’ Stories Jeanine Leane , 2016 single work essay
— Appears in: Overland , Summer no. 225 2016; (p. 41)
'In the late 1960s, when I was about eight, I announced to my aunt that I wanted to be white. If I were white, I explained, I would see myself everywhere – on television, on posters, in magazines, in books.' (Introduction)
Presence, Meaning, and the Other in Katharine Susannah Prichard's Coonardoo : The Well in the Shadow Barnabás Baranyi , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Journal of the European Association for Studies on Australia , vol. 7 no. 1 2016;
'This article reflects on the discursive strategies deployed by Katharine Susannah Pritchard's Coonardoo to undermine the then-dominant way of referring to Aboriginal-white relations, especially those involving sexuality. The novel does this through establishing Aboriginal culture as resembling a "presence culture" in Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht's terminology, while white-Australian culture is representative of a "meaning culture." Thus Coonardoo sets up a relationship between the two cultures that is reminiscent of the poststructuralist self/Other dichotomy. However, in contrast to most authors reflecting on the novel's representation of Aboriginal Otherness, this paper contends that Prichard's use of this dualism positions the two cultures in a way that allows for meaningful cultural exchange between them, rather than presenting these worldviews as incompatible with one another.' (Publication abstract)
Literature : A Step in the Right Direction Noela McNamara , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: Etropic , vol. 13 no. 1 2014;
'Literature offers the opportunity to encounter worlds beyond one’s own circumstances, environment, and situation. As an intercultural phenomenon, literary critique and analysis without borders can only be achieved by recognising cultural borders. Reading the literature of different cultures opens literary discourses to cross-cultural dialogue, but for too long, the lack of Indigenous literature within Australian literary discourses stymied the social potential of this intercultural phenomenon. Pressure from the global literary community has necessitated a vast shift of white consciousness to actively embrace narratives of different cultural dimensions, and novels that highlight cultural borders have become a key feature of Australian literature. Invisible literary borders have become apparent through exposure to the once silent voices that now emphasise messages of difference. Indigenous writers including Alexis Wright, Sally Morgan, Kim Scott, Jackie Huggins, Anita Heiss, Larissa Behrendt and Alice Nannup have opened reader consciousness to a broad scope of Indigenous perspectives. Within the arena of literary theories, the writer, reader and novels themselves have all had moments of glory, and while particular texts or authors have been immortalised, others have slipped into oblivion. Through the first person narrative of a non-Indigenous woman, this paper reveals how an intercultural literary experience revealed the restrictions of standard literary critique practices and inspired the creation of a relational discourse to engage with Indigenous voices as part of a methodological process. This intercultural literary process has the potential to inspire cultural awareness through acceptance and understanding of difference to overcome cultural unconsciousness. Such development has the capacity to destabilise invisible borders embedding lasting change in the consciousness of Australian readers and provide a foundational and fundamental step toward sustainable outcomes for Indigenous people.' (Publication summary)
Tracking Our Country in Settler Literature Jeanine Leane , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 14 no. 3 2014;

'This is a narrative paper that tracks a story of Aboriginal representation and the concept of nation across the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries through some important Australian texts. I read this assemblage of settler literature through the cultural metaphor of tracking, because tracking is as much about anticipation as it is following. Tracking is about reading: reading land and people before and after whitefellas. It is about entering into the consciousness of the person or people of interest. Tracking is not just about reading the physical signs; it is about reading the mind. It is not just about seeing and hearing what is there; it is as much about what is not there. Tony Morrisson [sic] wrote of mapping ‘the critical geography’ (3) of the white literary imagination in her work on Africanist presence in American Literature, Playing in the Dark. This paper tracks the settler imagination on Aboriginal presence in Australian literature in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. ' (Author's introduction)

The Romance of an Aboriginal C. C. (fl. 1927-31) , 1929 single work review
— Appears in: The Black Swan : The Magazine of the Guild of Undergraduates of the University of Western Australia The , vol. 13 no. 2 1929; (p. 20-22)

— Review of Coonardoo : The Well in the Shadow Katharine Susannah Prichard , 1928 single work novel
Gerald Gould Praises 'Coonardoo' Some Views, News and Reviews 1929 single work review
— Appears in: All About Books , 20 August vol. 1 no. 9 1929; (p. 282)

— Review of Coonardoo : The Well in the Shadow Katharine Susannah Prichard , 1928 single work novel
'Coonardoo' Nettie Palmer , 1929 single work review
— Appears in: All About Books , 20 September vol. 1 no. 10 1929; (p. 305-304)

— Review of Coonardoo : The Well in the Shadow Katharine Susannah Prichard , 1928 single work novel
Trailblazing Black-White Tale Mary Philip , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 4 - 5 November 2006; (p. 22)

— Review of Coonardoo : The Well in the Shadow Katharine Susannah Prichard , 1928 single work novel
Untitled Outbacker , 1929 single work review
— Appears in: The Capricornian , 19 September 1929; (p. 11)

— Review of Coonardoo : The Well in the Shadow Katharine Susannah Prichard , 1928 single work novel
Books that Changed My Life : Reading Coonardoo Enza Gandolfo , 2002 single work column
— Appears in: Overland , Summer no. 169 2002; (p. 127-129)
Politics and Xavier Herbert's Women Kevin Green , 1983 single work criticism
— Appears in: Kunapipi , vol. 5 no. 1 1983; (p. 51-62)
The Politics of Race and the Possibilities of Form in the Work of Katharine Susannah Prichard Delys Bird , 2003 single work criticism
— Appears in: Frank Hardy and the Literature of Commitment 2003; (p. 185-197)
Katharine Susannah Prichard : Her Novel on the Aborigines Greatly Shocked Australians Vance Palmer , 1959 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Age , 14 March 1959; (p. 18)
y separately published work icon Katharine Susannah Prichard's Coonardoo : A Critical Study Rosaleen A. Limbers , Sydney : Little Hills Press , 1981 Z1196238 1981 single work criticism


1928 joint winner The Bulletin Novel Competition Submitted under the name Jim Ashburton.
Last amended 23 May 2017 10:12:47