Henry Handel Richardson
Australian Classics Library
An introduction by Clive Probyn
An autobiographical novel, Maurice Guest is set in the musical culture of 1890s Leipzig, where Richardson was a student from 1889 to 1892. The international cast of music students perform, debate, love, drink and play in the musical shadows of J. S. Bach, Beethoven, Wagner, Richard Strauss and Bizet. This intense, uncompromising and self-obsessed world in Leipzig is the context for Maurice's consuming obsession for the 'unreadable' and elusive Louise Dufrayer, an Australian femme fatale.
This new edition of Maurice Guest, with an introduction by Clive Probyn, is a part of the Australian Classics Library series intended to make classic texts of Australian literature more widely available for the secondary school and undergraduate university classroom, and to the general reader. The series is co-edited by Emeritus Professor Bruce Bennett of the University of New South Wales and Professor Robert Dixon, Professor of Australian Literature at the University of Sydney, in conjunction with SETIS, Sydney University Press, AustLit and the Copyright Agency Limited. Each text is accompanied by a fresh scholarly introduction and a basic editorial apparatus drawn from the resources of AustLit.
Henry Handel Richardson (Ethel Florence Lindesay Robertson) (1870-1946) was born in Melbourne. She was elder daughter to a physician who was able to travel with his family in Europe until investment failures meant he had to return to Melbourne to rebuild his practice. Her father's character is drawn upon heavily in the character of Mahony in The Fortunes of Richard Mahony. He died in 1879 and in 1888 the family moved to Germany. In Germany she read widely in European literature and began her own writing career with her first novel Maurice Guest (1908). This was soon followed by The Getting of Wisdom (1910) and the works which would make up the Mahony trilogy, Australia Felix, The Way Home and Ultima Thule. The trilogy was published together in 1930 and is generally viewed as her major achievement.