I’ve now examined the typescript of The Buln Buln and the Brolga that is held in the Lloyd Ross Papers at the National Library of Australia and can confidently state that it was typed on Furphy’s Franklin typewriter and that Joseph Furphy struck the keys.
The typescript is hand-sewn with a stiff cardboard cover, but I’m not sure whether Furphy added the cover. I need to do some research on adhesive tape. Kate Baker’s signature appears on one of the pages, and so it was probably a gift to Robert Ross who was editor of the Barrier Truth when Rigby’s Romance was serialised and when The Buln Buln and the Brolga was also offered to the newspaper.
The type is definitely the same font and the typist used ‘I’ to represent 1 throughout – just like the Mitchell Library typescript. If that is not enough evidence, the absence of a space after commas clearly matches Furphy’s typing habits from the earlier typescript. That, I believe, is enough to argue that the typescript is Furphy’s and so can be included in the extant documents that were produced during his lifetime.
That means that I now have the following documents to inform my textual history of Such is Life:
- Such is Life manuscript (ca1890s – fragment)
- Such is Life typescript (1898 – two-thirds of novel, including early versions of Rigby’s Romance and Buln Buln and the Brolga)
- Such is Life (Bulletin Publishing Company, 1903)
- Rigby’s Romance (Serialised in Barrier Truth, 1905-1906)
- The Buln Buln and the Brolga (typescript, ca. 1906)
With these documents, Furphy’s correspondence and the published texts, I can determine whether there was any editorial intervention in the publications and establish a better understanding of the textual transmission in order to mount an argument for an inferred 1898 version of Such is Life. This will be best done in an electronic form and so watch this space for experiments with representations of the text as process and product.