The Joseph Furphy Archive

Roger Osborne, Editor

Roger Osborne, Editor

A Work-in-progress

This archive continues work done in the Australian Electronic Scholarly Editing Project (AustESE, 2012-2013). It remains a work-in-progress that employs the architecture and data models developed in the AustESE Project to produce an electronic archive and critical edition of the works of Joseph Furphy. Modular in nature, the AustESE Workbench was designed to support collaborative scholarly editing. It uses both custom-built and open-source tools to provide an environment where literary works and their versions can be transcribed, described, read, compared and annotated. Furphy's works provide a case-study to test and further develop the theory and practice that went into the first iteration of the AustESE WorkBench.

The AustESE Project was generously funded by the NeCTAR scheme from 2012 until the end of 2013. Since the beginning of 2014, the Workbench has been managed by members of the steering committee, and generously maintained by some of the software engineers who participated in the project. There is hope that in the near future the AustESE Workbench will be further refined through collaborative projects (small and large, casual, short-term, and longer term) to address issues that remain.

As for all works-in-progress of this type, visitors are advised that they might encounter bugs, unfinished pages, and navigation issues, all of which will be attended to in due course. In the spirit of open-source, open-access scholarship, these pages have been opened to the public so that the design and (most importantly) the archival material can be more widely viewed in order to support new and innovative scholarship.

For more information on the technical status of the AustESE WorkBench, please visit the AustESE GitHub site: For a short account of the WorkBench design, see our work-in-progress presentation at DH2013:

Joseph Furphy and Such is Life

Joseph Furphy's Such is Life is an Australian literary classic with a complicated textual history. Furphy spent the early 1890s writing and rewriting Such is Life, completing a final clean copy manuscript in 1897. After submitting the manuscript to the Bulletin Publishing Company, he was encouraged to have the manuscript typed, a task he took on himself. The novel was accepted for publication and a contract was signed in November 1899, but Furphy was kept waiting for several years while the publisher waited for better market conditions. The publisher’s editor, A. G. Stephens, encouraged Furphy to shorten the text. Furphy acquiesced in 1901 by removing two of the seven chapters, replacing them with shorter ones. After correction and further revision, the new version was published in 1903 as Such is Life. Furphy used the two extracted chapters to produce separate works, Rigby’s Romance, published serially in 1905 by the Broken Hill newspaper Barrier Truth, and The Buln-buln and the Brolga, which was not published during Furphy’s lifetime. Three separate works originate in the single 1898 typescript.

For more details on the textual history and the aims of the edition, see my 2013 article, "'Making the Archives Talk': Towards an Electronic Edition of Joseph Furphy's Such is Life," in JASAL 13(1),

This Project aims to provide greater access to the archive of evidence by digitising the manuscript materials, and presenting them to researchers on the AustESE Workbench. In conjunction with this archival work, a speculative edition of the 1898 typescript version will be compiled, complete with an essay on the text and annotations that will guide readers through the complex relationships between Such is Life, Rigby's Romance, and The Buln-buln and the Brolga. This archival and editorial work will be complemented by collaborative annotation and commentary.

For updates, please follow the Project blog:


Images and transcriptions of manuscript material are displayed with the permission of the State Library of New South Wales and the blessing of the Furphy family.

The Joseph Furphy Archive by Roger Osborne is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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