President Barrie Sheppard and Secretary Barbara Niven represented the JSA at an interesting gathering in Sydney on October 8 to discuss the establishment of an alliance of Australian literary societies.
The meeting took the form of a reception at the British Consulate in Sydney, attended by about 80 people representing 11 literary groups.
Barrie Sheppard presented an outline on behalf of the JSA and the Consul General, Richard Morris, privately offered to introduce JSA representatives to the Victorian Consul-General Stuart Gill with a view to setting up a similar reception to help form a similar literary society group in Melbourne.
The JSA believes such an alliance would help advance the cause of literary study, and provide the opportunity of cross-membership for participating groups.
At the Sydney reception. Clive Woosnam (Dylan Thomas Society of Australia) who organised the event, explained that what had started out as an exploratory idea to set up an informal co-ordinating body for literary groups had unexpectedly mushroomed into the Literary Society of Sydney, set up at a meeting at Dr Chris Cooper’s house, on 9 September 2010.
The reception, intended originally to bring interested groups together, had become a celebration of a fait accompli.
In a welcoming address Richard Morris expressed surprise and pleasure at the number of literary groups in existence.
Clive introduced representatives of ten NSW-based literary societies, who presented outlines of the history and functions of their groups:
- The Jane Austen Society of Australia
- Brontë Society
- Byron Society
- Sherlock Holmes (Conan Doyle) Society
- Charles Dickens Society
- Dylan Thomas Society of Australia
- Kipling Society (“Passengers”)
- DH Lawrence Society
- Shakespeare Society
- Trollope Society
Membership numbers varied greatly between Societies, from The Jane Austen Society (about 500) to the Trollope Society (5).
The JSA has since contacted 10 Victorian-based literary societies seeking expressions of interest and the response so far is encouraging.
NOTE: Barrie and Barbara travelled to Sydney at their own expense.