27 August 2012

Breakaway House republished

Daily News 1932
It is not well known that, in addition to the twenty-nine Bony novels, Arthur Upfield also wrote six published novels without Bony. I republished three - Gripped by Drought and A Royal Abduction in 2011, and The House of Cain earlier this year. Another is Breakaway House which has the most unusual publication history of all his novels.

Upfield first wrote it during 1932, the year after he left the bush to live in Perth, Western Australia, and work full-time as a freelance writer. It was published as a serial in a local newspaper, the Daily News, later that year. It was to be published by the (Melbourne) Herald early the next year; but the Herald then decided not to do so.

Nevertheless, in mid-1933 the Herald invited Upfield to join their staff; he accepted and moved to Melbourne to take up the job. He was retrenched when his six-month contract expired, but he had rewritten Breakaway House while with the Herald in the hope they would publish it; they did not. Although set in the same location, the story and its characters were significantly altered.

A&R 1987
Upfield apparently did nothing more with it until 1962 when he began to convert it into a Bony novel. But only the first five chapters had been drafted when he died in 1964. The 1934 version was eventually published as a book by Angus and Robertson, twenty-three years after Upfield’s death.

Lulu.com 2009
I first became aware of the unfinished revision in 2003; most of the first chapter had been published in the Bony Bulletin (No. 31) of February 1990, and I included it in my first anthology of Upfield’s short stories, Up and Down Australia, published in 2008. 

Lulu 2012
Not long afterwards I discovered there are five unfinished chapters in the Baillieu Library at the University of Melbourne, so I published them in my second anthology of his short stories, Up & Down Australia Again, in 2009.

I don’t know why the Herald would not publish the 1932 or 1934 versions. It’s a romantic thriller set in the Australian outback with a plot as good as The House of Cain and A Royal Abduction, and exhibits Upfield’s strengths of painting pictures with words and spelling words as spoken.

The new edition is available from the Arthur Upfield Bookshop.

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