With the generous support of the 2011 Nancy Keesing Fellowship, this project seeks to prepare a comprehensive textual history of Joseph Furphy’s Such is Life and work towards the completion of the Joseph Furphy Digital Archive.
Submitted to the Bulletin as a long, handwritten manuscript, Such is Life evolved through several periods of revision as it was prepared for publication. Acting on the advice of A. G. Stephens, Furphy delivered a typescript of the novel that he prepared himself. Still considered too long for publication, Stephens convinced Furphy to remove two chapters that were subsequently published as Rigby’s Romance and The Buln Buln and the Brolga. Furphy replaced these chapters with two shorter ones and the revised Such is Life was eventually published by the Bulletin Publishing Company in 1903.
After Furphy’s death in 1912, Kate Baker took on the job of preserving her friend’s literary legacy. This included the publication of abridged editions of Rigby’s Romance (1921) and Such is Life (1937), the latter condemned by the likes of Miles Franklin and P. R. ‘Inky’ Stephensen. Angus and Robertson published editions of Furphy’s three novels in the 1940s, setting the stage for the academic criticism and scholarship that provides a strong foundation for this project.
The Joseph Furphy Digital Archive was launched in July 2015 and will be completed in 2020 as a companion to a book-length study that traces transmission of Such is Life from typescript to the various book forms of the 1940s and beyond.