New Release: Valour and Violets

cover of Valour and Violets by Robert Kearney and Sharon Cleary

Cover of the book

Valour and Violets, the latest release from Wakefield Press, is a meticulously researched catalogue of the stories of hundreds of South Australians who gave their country everything.

Close to 35,000 South Australians enlisted for service overseas during the Great War. Around 5500 never came back. Countless more returned with physical and psychological injuries that would affect them for the rest of their lives.

Valour and Violets brings together for the first time the stories of the campaigns and battles in which South Australians served, set against the backdrop of the South Australian home front. Here are the stories of Frederick Prentice, the first of three Indigenous South Australians to be awarded the Military Medal; Thomas Baker, the gunner who became an ace pilot; and Sister Margaret Graham, awarded the Royal Red Cross for her contribution to army nursing. Here too are lesser known stories, such as that of Alexandrina Seager, who formed the Cheer-Up Society back home and worked every single day during the war, despite losing her youngest son at Gallipoli. Or Clara Weaver of Rosewater, who not only lost five sons to the war but also her husband, George, who died at home before the war ended.

Drawing on the work of the many who have written on the subject previously,Valour and Violets provides a wholly South Australian perspective on the impact of the Great War on individuals, on families and on our state’s coastal, regional, and outback communities.

Read an Extract >>

Copies are available online, and from our bookshop in Mile End.

Special thanks to Veterans SA.

The Wakefield Press Reader’s Guide to Open State

Open State festival has a packed program which kicks off on Thursday 28 September and runs through to Sunday 8 October. Publisher Michael Bollen brings you the Wakefield Press Reader’s Guide to Open State.

My, my. It’s an eye-opener and source of pride, browsing the Open State program, reminding us how books and reading interweave past, present and future. Picking through the goodies on offer, the mind thinks inevitably, Hmm, could be a book in that. And thinks too: Now, which of our existing books best fits that theme?

One session, Blast From the Past, is about getting our stories on screen. We have a host of possibles. Maybe a soapie set in Adelaide’s first gaol, feeding off Rhonnda Harris’s Ashton’s Hotel with its cast of intriguing characters. Or tales from underground, using Carol Lefevre’s beautiful book of true stories, Quiet City: Walking in West Terrace Cemetery.

Then again, perhaps Simon Butters’s YA novel, The Hounded, about alienation in Adelaide’s hinterland, is the best screen fit. Though it works also with the question that obsesses our town – Adelaide is one of the world’s most liveable cities: fact or fiction?

You can take a stroll to decide in the Future Adelaide Walking Tour. Have a browse along the way in Lance Campbell’s and Mick Bradley’s deluxe book, City Streets, which showcases the CBD in 1936 and 2011. Whither now?

Dickson Platten have helped shape the Adelaide landscape through people-centric place-making since the 1960s, and you can celebrate that 50 years of achievement at the opening of their exhibition, On Show. We have books from both Dickson and Platten: Addicted to Architecture, Hybrid Beauty and the lovely Lure of the Japanese Garden.

From one design icon to another: the beloved Jam Factory present Drink. Dine. Design. featuring finely crafted objects, ideas and applications that enhance the joy of eating and drinking. Learn more about the Jam Factory in its fortieth-anniversary book, Designing Craft / Crafting Design.

Nick Jose has written both fiction (Avenue of Eternal Peace) and non-fiction (Chinese Whispers) about China, so its no surprise to see him as one of the co-curators of Writing China, a day-long series of transcultural, transmedia events. Brian Castro is a prominent participant, likely mentioning his novel On China (and why not also add Drift and Double-Wolf to your bedside reading pile). 

Among the many events that make up Writing China is Reimagining: Panel and ReadingsThis panel considers how fiction can take the world you know – your city – and make it new. A full-on accompaniment might be Stephen Orr and his latest book of short stories, Datsunland. In the words of Kerryn Goldsworthy in the Sydney Morning Herald, ‘[Orr’s] work continues to have a prominent place in the literary mapping and recording of South Australia and Adelaide’.

For the last weekend of the festival, we’ll be selling our wares at the annual State History Conference. This year’s beguiling theme is Hearts and Minds: revaluing the past. There’s much of that in our new Colonialism and its Aftermath – the first comprehensive history of Aboriginal South Australia since Native Title.

We at Wakefield look forward to seeing you round this Open State as we venture from our normal habitat: gladly chained to the wheel, churning out South Australia’s tales to the world.

Fun with books on Friyay!

Guys guys guys, the book world is out of control at the moment. Everyone’s having way too much fun and just needs to calm down a little.

Rodney Pople (1952–) I feel so pretty, so witty, 2004

An artistic representation of the frenzy of fun the book industry’s in at the moment (aka I feel so pretty, so witty [2004] by Rodney Pople)

For example? Well, the New Yorker has picked up on the fact that every single book seems to be called The Girl on the Something at the moment, and they’ve run this glorious spoof. Funny book-related content + an astute observation of the issues of depicting sexual assault + casual references to lacrosse teams? I’m in.

Next, romance seems to be the genre that just keeps giving. There’s this list of the greatest romance covers of all time, which also links to one of the most ridiculous readings of all time. Then there’s the news that KFC has legit released their own romance novella starring the Colonel, with their own schmaltzy promo video. Legit.

Finally – and this one’s for the editing dorks – the New York Times now has a copyediting quiz series so you can test your editing chops. Here’s a hot tip: it’s a good idea to be on top of your who/whom usage before you start. So much fun. So dorky.

And now, to get your weekend off to a good start, let Wakefield FM court. YouTube get you in the mood. A bit of Pharrell seems appropriate for a Friyay … Have a good weekend, everyone!


Womadelaide weekend + links

Guys, it’s Womadelaide weekend!

To keep you busy while you’re counting down the hours, here are a few fun bits and pieces we’ve been collecting from around the internet.

First, we have absolute proof that books are worth a lot of effort. Though, in my experience, there’s not normally £2 million to reward said effort. Still, if you’re a Mission Impossible fan you should probably read this.

Second, there’s going to be a book about a sniffer dog from Afghanistan that developed a fear of loud noises. This made me tear up. It’s okay: the dog ends up living happily ever after. Really, this has only a tenuous connection to books, but – y’know – we heart doggies. Read more here.

Third, this campaign has us wanting to go all audio all the time for our reading. And also rewatch some classic 80s Neighbours. And worship Jordan Raskopoulos. Listen to your heart indeed.

Fourth, this story about a case of mistaken identity leading to jail in the US is terrifying. Then again, most things about the US are terrifying at the moment. Also a little bit ridiculous.

Finally, to celebrate Womad weekend we’re listening to some of our favourites from years past. Geoffrey Oryema will always be high on that list for me.

Have a lovely weekend!





Friday funday!

Okay guys, it’s been a while since we’ve done one of these, but it’s Friday funday! That’s a thing, right? Anyway, there’ve been some pretty cool links around recently and we wanna share.

First, we have the ultimate test of Aussie English. Okay, so it’s Buzzfeed, which means it’s a laugh, but there are some little beauties on this list – or should we say bloody rippers?

Next, to take it up a notch, Merriam-Webster have a quiz to test how strong your vocabulary is. You only have ten seconds to answer each question, and it’s bloody stressful. Especially for editors. We have a lot riding on this, guys!

If you actually want a good read, rather than endless quizzes (not that there’s anything wrong with quizzes!) trundle over to the Guardian, where there’s a piece about 2016’s word of the year: post-truth. Perfectly apt, given the situation in America at the moment (and elsewhere). Still, take us back to last year, when the word of the year was an emoji. Ah, simpler times …

And last but certainly not least, the Bad Sex in Fiction awards are back! Some of the quotes will leave you breathless – in a bad way:

I spill like grain from a bucket

My whole body had gone inside her. … My body was her gearstick.

The act itself was fervent. Like a brisk tennis game or a summer track meet, something performed in daylight between competitors.

Oh, bless. There’s nothing like a brisk game of tennis.

And now, to welcome the weekend, to pay our dues, in memoriam, and just because he is/was/will always be the best, we’ll leave you with some Leonard. A man whose lyrics were never, ever, nominated for a bad sex award …

Wednesday links

The Wednesday links are in, kids!

Have you checked the news today? Because we’re getting excited about all of this Harper Lee business. Time to rewatch Gregory Peck in the movie version <swoon!>.

Also, ever wondered what kind of feedback James Joyce would have got from his creative writing class on his Ulysses?
McSweeney’s have too!

Balked a bit at some of Molly’s “sexier” thoughts, which read like male fantasy. You can do better than this, Jim.

Ah, glory.


And, last but not least, we have not one or two but SEVEN launches coming up in March. Yes, we’re exhausted already. Yes, we’ll be sending you those details soon. In the meanwhile, y’all better come to our Geoff Goodfellow event next Saturday!


With kisses from WP HQ

Wednesday links!

Too many things to share with you all!

First of all, look at this beautiful book:

<em>Every Time You Close Your Eyes<em>













The latest from the incredibly talented Bel Schenk, Every Time You Close Your Eyes is set during a power outage in New York in the seventies. It’s an amazing one-sit read. Buy here!

Secondly, are creative courses killing Western literature? Horace Engdahl seems to be making the case that grants are softening our authors up too much. What do you guys think?

Thirdly, the gorgeously dorky kids at Porter Square Books in the US have put together a list of 12 awkward bookseller moments. Yes. I know what they’re talking about. For all of them.

AND the always awesome Junkee crew have put together a list of eight places to go in Adelaide to soak up our arts scene. Good start, kids, but there are so many more! What about Dark Horsey Bookshop? The Jam Factory? Mercury Cinema? Those are all within ten metres of each other! The Mill, E for Ethel, Hillbilly Hoot, and – oh, I don’t know – the whole damn city during any of our numerous festivals.

Hot damn, Adelaide. You do good for a little guy!

Last, but certainly not least, we have some Edwyn Collins, courtesy of editor/typesetter/designer extraordinaire Michael Deves. Anyone remember the scene from Empire Records? That movie turns 20 next year.

And, just like that, I’m old.

Happy Wednesday!